A day late, but NOT a mug short! I was on a tech assignment in th e Motherland (Michigan) yesterday. :)
I wrote this last night, but didn't get home to upload until just now.
Cross In The Woods, true to its name, is a giant crucifix at the altar of an outdoor Catholic church in Indian River, Michigan.
I got this mug in 1997, when I went on an all-star break trip up north with Heather H, Rich and Jackie. We went to the church on Sunday, before we crossed the bridge into the Upper Peninsula. But for me, the roots are way deeper than a fond memory of a stop on our baseball break trip.
I don't specifically remember the first time I saw the towering cross with the sculpture of Jesus on it. I just remember that it has always been there, it was always a spiritual place in my mind. I have old photos of my brother and me with our parents in the Stations of the Cross gardens and by the statue of the Blessed Mother. When we were camping in the area, that was where we went to church on Sunday, a beautiful mass in the woods with the appropriately larger than life itself symbol towering high over the raised altar. Like I said, I don't have specific vivid memories of visits there from my childhood, just the very strong memories of the "feeling" of being there.
We always lit candles there. I do remember being there with Noni and lighting a candle for Nono. We always lit candles, even when we weren't there for mass. Mom and Dad had that same feeling, I'm sure that's how it came to me, an unspoken knowledge. I think that's the one place in all the world I have always felt at peace, closer to God, safe.
As an adult, when I've returned it was often to feel that sense of security again. To meditate and allow myself to be that innocent child again. It's a place of spiritual cleansing.
In 1991, after I'd finished trade school and before I traveled to Atlanta for my first job interview since completing my certificate, I went there. I got the token praying for safety for my car there before the trip and let that peace wash over me. I lit candles for Noni and Nono
In 2003, I returned again in search of peace. It was the first time I'd been alone in weeks. It was the first alone time I'd had since my Mom died. She and I were very close and no one let me be alone. I needed to have that alone time to grieve privately. After taking Grandma home, I went to the Straits of Mackinac, a place that Mom and I had enjoyed together many times. On the way I stopped at Cross In The Woods. I walked around the gardens and sat in the empty seats in the grounds of the outdoor church. I got to cry, meditate and I found some peace, peace I could hold on to and begin to heal. Before I left, I lit a candle for my Mother and one for Tori and Rina's Mother. Candles for mothers called home before their daughters were ready to say "goodbye."
I know my love for Claes Oldengberg's outdoor art, my appreciation for skyscrapers and admiration for the immensity of the ocean as I stand on the beach are all born from that presence that left its mark on me as a child. My appreciation for symbolism and "larger than life" comes from the impression that image of spirituality showers over the woods at its base - All powerful, all consuming and all comforting.
See the website for Cross In The Woods