The following was written by the Rev. Canon C. Russell Elliott who lives in Wolfville, N.S. He has had a long and creative ministry; nearing his 99th birthday, he is still active and sharing his faith and love with all he meets. He has had a long association with the Sisterhood. His wife bore his first two children – boy and girl twins – at the hospital in Springhill, N.S. in the 1940s under the capable management of Sister Anna, SSJD. He has been a faithful Associate of SSJD for over 70 years.
We print the following with Fr. Elliott’s permission and with thanksgiving to him.
Whatever else Lent may include it is inevitable that eventually I stand at the foot of the Cross. The Book of Common Prayer indicates that from the fifth Sunday onwards is Passiontide, fixing attention upon the Cross, its pain and promise, the Collect or daily prayer asking simply that God may “mercifully look upon thy people”. On Good Friday I am still standing at the foot of the Cross in profound prayer. I feel those eyes looking down upon me, now from the Cross. There are no words, there are no names, there are no reproaches, there are no promises. Yet I hear them all, I know what they tell me. I listen with my heart, I hear deep in my soul, I feel in my inmost being. I am shattered and torn apart, I am burned and battered, I cannot die and I dare not live.
That Man on the Cross, I once saw him weeping over the city – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I tried to draw you safely, like a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not come. He once told disciples, like me, that he is the first in a new kingdom, though there is no first there, all are free to care for everyone else – he even told Pilate that the kingdom is not of this sinful world. I heard him rebuke Peter, and me, for superficial loyalty. I saw him weep again when the death of Lazarus so deeply touched the heart of the sister. This morning I heard him promise to a thief – to me too? – ‘thou shalt be with me’. As the eyes closed and the head dropped, I heard a voice, from somewhere, maybe from my own throat: Make no mistake, this man is the Son of God.
From wherever my own today’s personal Golgatha is, I find my quiet way to my home. The original Lent measured forty hours from death on the Cross to life at first Easter appearance. My soul counts quietly from darkness to light, from death to life. In the Garden, if I hear a voice call my name, as He once spoke to Mary, I know that all is well between us once more.