via della croce

On Good Friday four years ago, I joined the townspeople of Orvieto, Italy in the Via della Croce—the Way of the Cross. With a candle in hand, I walked through the blurry, yellow-lighted streets, bumping shoulders with shop owners, the man I saw the week before at Thursday market, and a few of my American friends.
As we walked the walled perimeter of the village, I peered out into the darkness. The countryside so green and lush in daylight disappeared in the black of night. Only a few stars glimmered.

Fourteen times we stopped in various corners of the village to hear passages of Jesus’ struggle to carry the cross, his terrible mistreatment and gruesome crucifixion, and eventually his last breath and death. 

Although a somber occasion, people chatted quietly while we walked between Bible passages, the flames of our candles flickering in the windows of buildings along the narrow streets. Parents continually relit the candles of their children, who, unable to tame the temptation, blew at them over and over again. Couples climbed the cobblestoned hills arm-in-arm. I stepped silently, breathing in the cool night air.

Through the darkness we walked, making our way toward the open doors of a church pouring light out into the piazza. Together we made our way toward the glow, and once inside, we thanked God for it—for the light—that it might never be extinguished. And we thanked God for the conquering of the darkness, knowing that we could never have conquered it ourselves.


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