The cross and the beginner’s mindset

There is a concept in yoga called The Beginner’s mindset. The idea is that you don’t “advance” or “progress” in yoga; you always return to the beginning, with the fresh and open mindset of a beginner. It’s not like, okay I’ve mastered downward dog, now I’m going to learn how to do a head-stand. You continually return to the same poses and you find yourself there, again and again.

Four years ago on Good Friday, I put up a Facebook post saying that after many years of being a Christian, I still didn’t really understand what the cross was all about. “Jesus died for our sins” I had been told since infancy, but what does that mean?

It sounds like nonsense to me, but at the same time the Easter story affects me; I feel its significance at some deep level inside myself.

Since that time, I have changed my perspective on how I should understand the cross. Instead of thinking that it’s a concept I should have covered years ago, I approach the cross with the beginner’s mindset.

Every Easter, Christians contemplate the cross, and every year I ponder its meaning. I am not trying to master the meaning of the cross. I am entering into the mystery and seeking nourishment from that place of mystery, where symbolism speaks to us more clearly than literalism, which is bleached of meaning (as seen in those words, “Jesus died for our sins”, so literal and meaningless to me).

It follows that today’s Good Friday church service (experienced via Zoom) was liturgical rather than sermon-based. We moved through the journey of Jesus via Scripture, chanted song, and prayer.

Here is one thought on the meaning of the cross that I have found in the mystery:

Jesus stood up against the oppressive forces of the say, including corrupt religion as well as the global military superpower, and those forces crushed him, because that’s how evil systems of power maintain control: they crush their enemies. Jesus chose to submit to their power rather than maintain the pattern of redemptive violence, and therefore he suffered a brutal, violent death.

Then he rose to life again, showing that love conquers death, conquers violence, conquers the myth of redemptive violence. He bowed out of their game and thus overcame the powers of evil.

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