The Cross (with John Berger)

crossed-linesI’m paraphrasing, but I once heard an interview with John Berger in which he said:

‘At the crossroads in the centre of the village is a cross. There’s another one in the next village and the one after that. The crosses are joined by roads and by people walking or driving, this to the next and next and next, connecting us across the whole of the earth, though you may have to take a boat or plane to the next one. And that’s what the horizontal bar of the cross means, this connection of all people across the globe .

‘And the vertical direction of the cross? Up here…’ he holds his hand open palmed towards the sky and brings it down, drawing the fingers together as he speaks, ‘are those not yet born, the ones coming into being. And down there are our ancestors, the ones who came before, who we have laid in the earth.

‘And the centre is one’s own single heart connected across time and space with every other single heart.’

Berger probably said it nothing like that; it was a long time ago. It is his concept but I no longer remember where he ended and I elaborated.

Well… it doesn’t matter how we are all connected. The fact is, we are. Not just people either, the whole shebang, even inanimate objects, earth, air, stars. Nothing in this universe is not interconnected. Simple.

crossroad at dusk
no need to ask
the way

the quietness
of a wishing child
evening star

on the warm earth
under stars —
that I am that




14 thoughts on “The Cross (with John Berger)

  1. I’ve only read one book by John Berger but I never forgot it. I saw art in a whole new way as a result. Weirdly enough, I have never run into of his other work. I should do a little search. Thanks for the inspiration.

      1. He really does. But he is also a true teacher because he gives the reader a kind of technology for ‘seeing’ that they can use themselves. I suspect he is a generous person.

  2. Belinda,
    Good morning.

    Thanks for another of your generous offerings. Yours is my first reading of this morning over here on the west coast of America. And it’s exactly the reminder I needed. I grew up with Christ hung on a cross but was never given anything like this as an understanding of the symbolism.

    There was a lot of “suffering and pain” in my cross teachings. And then there was that old man above the top of the cross in the clouds that spoke from a burning bush and zapped a woman into a pillar of salt for not being obedient. She looked back at the fires of his vengeance. ZOT!

    I was taught by church that the bars of the cross divided (rather than connected together) heaven from earth, good from bad, God from man, dead from living and one from another. Finally I was taught (through my government sponsored education) to distrust anyone who could believe in such cross nonsense. IN the early years we were taught to pray in school. Later on we were taught it was wrong and stupid to pray.

    Yes. We’re all connected. Yes. Everything and all is one. I shall henceforth view crosses differently. Thanks for this insight into the symbol.

    All the best. I’m sending love and healing vibes your way on the great interconnected web. 🙂

    1. Oh boy, the churches have messed with religion. So much of what has been taught has been about subjugating people with fear.
      The tradition I was in (and I only had it till I was about 7 when we moved to the bush, so I had all the innocence of sunday school and not much else in my formative years) had no hell and was rather emphatic about and an all-forgiving God. I never heard of original sin till after I left school. I was lucky in that way. I can look on the stories through eyes that read Joseph Campbell and others without the pain of fear. And looked on as archetypal myths, they are quite something else. Maybe I’ll post my Lot’s wife’s poem.
      Of course, like so much else of the Christian tradition, the cross is a much older symbol.

  3. This haibun had me reading, researching, studying, and reading again. I just find, found it so interesting. I read your haibun about Australia, the Aboriginals, and still am not sure how to ever write a more complete piece. I wish I was teaching again to be able to discuss that one with a class, but in fact this piece also merits much discussion and analysis of a different order. Very well done. Sincerely.

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