Looking up at Jesus, I can see why people find him intimidating.
Although he is small and frail looking on the cross, the light from the overcast sky makes it look like he is glowing. The tips of the cross seem like a part of him, too. As I stand beneath the cross, I understand why people would want to do nothing but grovel at his feet.
I rest my hands on the railing and I trail my gaze down from the tall cross to the smaller ones that are littered beneath. I try my best to read the words that people have written on them. Some of the ink has faded with time, others so diluted by rain that the words have become illegible dark blobs that stain the wood.
But the ones that I can make out leave a gaping hole in my stomach.
“May the grace He brings light up the path to my future.”
I grip the railing harder—so hard that my knuckles turn white and I can’t tell where my hand ends and where the metal railing begins. Among the hill of crosses, I want to feel as though there is no one else around me other than the all-powerful god. Even though I can hear the gentle hum of prayers around me, and the conversations of the tourists beside me, I want to feel as though there is nothing but silence. I want to feel the warm embrace of god. I want to believe.
I turn my gaze up at the overcast sky. I imagine that there is a god up there, looking down at us. I imagine that god has a plan for me. I imagine that I am not without purpose, not without guidance, and not without a reason.
I feel someone stand beside me.
“God forgives all,” the stranger says.
When I don’t reply, the stranger continues, “You are struggling, my son, yes?”
I close my eyes.
“Yes,” I say.
“God will help you decide, He watches you always.”
“God is not real.”
The stranger shakes his head. “How can you say that when you stand in His presence?”
“There’s nothing that proves his existence, you simply believe.”
“And yet faith is all you need,” the stranger says.
I open my eyes and stare at the decaying cross in front of me.
“How would faith help me?”
“You won’t know it,” the stranger says, “that’s all life is, isn’t it? It’s just a leap of faith.”
I laugh. “So, you’re saying that all I have to do is believe?”
The stranger nods, looking up at the sky, and I feel as though perhaps he knows more than he is letting on.
“Yes, that is all you have to do.”
I look at the golden-coated Jesus, arms spread and pinned on the cross. He looks up at the sky, eyes closed.
“And what if he doesn’t help me?”
“Let Him in,” the stranger says. “He will help you. God would not abandon you.”
“Is it just that simple? I… There are a lot of things that I…”
“God will forgive.”
“Alright,” I say. Under the overcast sky, the golden-coated model of Jesus looks as though it is glowing. “Alright. I will. I will believe.”
“Then it is done.”