The cross was my constant companion. It traveled with me whenever I embarked on a new adventure. The words from Jeremiah are engraved on it: “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The cross was a gift when I graduated college. As I left the US, less than 2 months after graduation, to serve in the Peace Corps, the cross was securely packed in my bag. It hung prominently beside my door in my African hut. For two years it connected me to the family who gifted it to me and to the God who went with me. For two years it served as my prayer in my coming and going, my learning and unlearning, my growing and doubting, my loving and sharing.
The cross greeted me each day and invited me to rest each night.
Since then the cross has come with me to every new place and every new adventure.
From a small West African village to seminary, to my first apartment, to my first home as a married couple, the cross has been present.
It calms me.
It uplifts me.
It comforts me.
It centers me.
The cross is nothing fancy, by now it’s showing its age. Red dust still covers it from the African landscape. It’s a simple cross with bold colors and Jeremiah’s words.
“For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The cross reminds me that no matter where I went or how far I was from home, I never went alone. Its presence reminds me of God’s deep abiding love for me and for this world. The cross shows me God’s love as poured out through the life and death of Jesus.
Now this same cross hangs in my home in a long hallway where my children’s rooms are located. It’s joined with many other crosses from a variety of people and places. Some of the crosses were gifted to us. Some of them were purchased while traveling. There are many stories found in each cross. But this one cross, this Jeremiah cross, has traveled with me more than any other.
Perhaps one day one of my children will take the cross on one of their adventures. Maybe they’ll have their own Peace Corps experience, or perhaps they’ll find themselves in school or work in a new state. If that’s the case, I’ll pack the cross in their bags and offer them a blessing. I’ll remind them that they are never alone. I’ll pray that they remember that wherever their plans take them, they are good. And holy.
Image: Jeremiah Cross
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com