When I was preparing for Confirmation (and in those days also first Communion) I was in a Church where I was taught to make the sign of the cross before I held out my hands for the bread and the cup. The priest taking our class could have said all sorts of clever and holy things about this but what he actually said was that making the sign of the cross was one final act of pulling ourselves together before we received the Sacrament.

I have thought about this over the years and have often been glad of the idea of “pulling myself together” with this sign. Of course, I am not really doing the pulling, God is, but it has come to mean to me a place of focus and openness. A place where I will stand with my hands open, palms up, defenseless and open to change.

Holy Cross day, a day to remember and celebrate the Cross of Christ, can take us in many directions in our thoughts. The Cross is a central symbol of our faith and as such it cannot be reduced to cleverness or easily understood explanations. The mystery of the Cross is both in who Jesus is and how he is for us – but also in how we might be caught up and lifted into God’s presence and power.