It was 1977, the Good Friday service at the College Church. My knees screamed as I followed others down the aisle toward the opened sanctuary gates where deacons held a large crucifix. It was time for the Veneration of the Cross. Supported by the pew next to me, I took another step—it seemed to take forever, the crowd sapping my energy, the chant softening my tears. Then, the crucifix was offered to me. I leaned over and kissed the Crucified’s knees, firmly. I knew He would understand.

And I was right. Decades of other Venerations of the Cross followed; with each one came the sense that Jesus also suffered the assault of my arthritic body. And such a companion He has been.



Only recently did I happen upon The Crucified God (1972) by the German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, a book that emerged from the kiln of his unconscious, teeming with Nazi atrocities and prisoner of war experiences. His book validated my hunch.

Moltmann proposes that suffering is not a problem to be solved but instead that suffering is an aspect of God’s very being: God is love, and love invariably involves suffering. In this view, the crucifixion of Jesus is an event that affects the entirety of the Trinity, showing that The Crucified God is more than an arresting title—it is a theological breakthrough.

In this suffering/death, I draw courage to participate in my own, whenever and however it occurs. That I’ve lived as long as I have speaks to the mystery of this strange, but multi-faceted love pulsating in the marrow of my bones. Yet, there’s more to learn.