So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself… (John 19:16-17 NRSV)By himself. That's what it all come down to for Jesus. After all the travelling and teaching and enjoying (and being frustrated) by his companions, all the parties with the tax-collectors and sinners, and all the criticism, fear and wondering. He had to go through this alone. It's the same for each one of us ultimately. We will each meet our maker alone. And depending on things like the amount of sleep we're getting, our state of health, our emotional state; we will experience what might be called foreshadowing of what Jesus must have felt then. That sense of being alone in the universe.
But we have a choice about how we deal with that. It can be a bleak, barren, despairing, hopeless dark space inside us. Or, it can be something else. Some wise person has written about turning that lonely space inside us from a barren, wilderness to a "garden of solitude." How?
First, by being totally honest with God and acknowledging that we have an empty and lonely place inside and it hurts.
Then we fill that place with the things of God. What does that mean? It means some effort. We have to actively seek God. Where? In Jesus. In the Bible. In Christian companions. In church. In nature. In foolish acts of extravagantly generous foot-washing-like service to others. In eating the bread. In drinking from the cup and, above all, in loving one another as he loved us by walking through the crowd to that place of execution all by himself and then dying for us.
One more thing. A note about loving one another. Other people most need our love when they are feeling by themselves, alone in the universe. How can we serve them best? Baroness Caroline Cox, "Faith on the Frontline," in New Wine magazine:
…we have to remember that at the end of Christ's earthly life, all his mother could do was to stand at the foot of the cross and be with him in love and grief. Perhaps it is part of every church's calling to be prepared to attend whatever ‘Calvaries' our Lord may call us to attend, and to be present in love, grief and profound respect.To be with them in love. To be present. Then they are no longer by themselves.