With outstretched arms, it called to me, urging me to fold into its safe and comforting embrace.
“Leave your troubles here,” it whispered.
If you happen to be driving north on Interstate-57, located along the side of the road, near Effingham, IL, you can’t help but notice a monstrous structure. This awesome man-made sight warrants putting that foot on the brake and slowing down just bit, or pulling over all together because you’ll want to stare at this gleaming white piece of metal glistening high above, almost reaching the clouds. What is this structure? A giant cross. A beautiful, towering, holy mass.
Completed in July 2001 at a cost of over one million dollars, it stands 198 feet high. The cross arm spans 113 feet long. Nearly 34 tons of reinforced steel footings along with 848 cubic yards of concrete make up the foundation. There is almost 181 tons of steel in the structure.
My head whipped around. Looking out my car window, I couldn’t believe how gigantic it was. I suddenly felt very small and could only imagine how much smaller I’d feel if I was standing right next to it. It beckoned me to come closer. I turned my steering wheel toward the side of road along the white line, and braked.
“Leave your troubles here,” it whispered again.
I was in a zone. The only noises vibrating within the confines of my vehicle were country music and unfiltered thoughts spiraling in my brain. I-57 is mesmerizingly mundane, so it’s pretty easy to let your imagination get the best of you. There are two-lanes on each side. Tall trees provide a border to farmlands hidden from view until the next town where it usually opens up to small manufacturing plants, a few businesses, and fast-food restaurants. Until then though, it’s your car, your reflections, and the concrete pavement. The cross took me completely by surprise. I welcomed the distraction.
Whether you are spiritual or religious, it was a surreal site to say the least, even if it was a few minutes. I envisioned the cross bending forward, wrapping its arms around all those who are suffering, and gathering them up in the cavity of its breast. Loving all the people carrying gigantic burdens on their shoulders.
No human is ever without pain, anxiety, or problems on this good earth of ours. It’s called life. When you’re alive, you’re traveled, bumped, and sometimes bruised. It’s in the comfort of others, a simple touch, a smile, and/or chocolate, that can often help soothe a broken spirit.
With one final glance over my shoulder, I accelerated and got on the road again. I did what came naturally to me. I prayed. I prayed for our nation, our leaders, our schools, my neighbors, my friends, my family, and even myself—to stop the momentum of dark words and malicious actions. It was a lot to pray about, but I felt convicted to do so. Did it change anything? I’m not sure. Maybe that one person I was thinking about had a fleeting moment of peace in their chaotic life. If so, I will never know. And that’s okay. It was a release, and I left my own troubles at the foot of that cross.
YouTube video of the making of the cross. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I7y1Mc1CTg.
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