My first reaction, when I sat down to pray this station before painting it, was “no, not yet!” I felt like I’d moved towards this moment all too quickly. Jesus is already being nailed to the cross? Really? But I’ve just begun to sit with these stations, to immerse myself in them, and my understanding is still so small. And, as a painter, I’ve just begun to understand what I’m painting.
While painting these stations, I’ve gotten increasingly more chaotic and less controlled. The early paintings, which probably don’t feel that controlled, were really labored over. They were thought more than felt. But in the last few paintings, I’ve begun to trust myself more, to pull colors off the palette out of instinct, to give the paint more freedom to move about the paper. I don’t know if this has made for better paintings or worse, but I do know that I’ve learned a freer process.
And, in an odd way, I think that the stations are all about freedom. Dying daily to self is a way of seeking freedom, a setting fears of inadequacy aside, of caring less about being judged by others. Always the harshest judgement comes from ourselves. Always its our own broken and bitter persons that mock and beat us. For us to find freedom, these mean spirited and negative aspects of our personalities have to die. They fight this death, and we fight it, because we don’t know who we are without them. Yet its from this tension and this battle that the central paradox of the Christian spiritual life arises. By allowing ourselves to be nailed to the cross, we discover a path to freedom. It’s through our wounds that we are healed.