On Good Friday – A View From Above

by Marilyn on April 18, 2014

Bab ZuweilaTwin minarets

In the city of Cairo twin minarets stand tall, their silhouettes marked against a clear blue sky. They stand distinguishable from the thousand other minarets because of their fame as a city landmark. The minarets frame a gate still standing since the 11th century, the gate of Bab Zuweila. The minaret towers are so high that they were used to look out for enemy troops coming up to attack the city. Now, centuries later, the minarets of Bab Zuweila provide an unparalleled view of the old city of Cairo.

Climbing up the minarets is a journey. Around ancient steps you walk – farther and farther up, dizzy from the spiral and half frightened from the dark staircase. You make it to the first area where you go out and stand looking over the vast city of 18 million people. But you’re compelled to go farther. So on you go. And it gets more rickety and frightening, the centuries-old steps become even narrower and darker. You can see nothing and you are grasping on to the steps in front of you for fear of falling. But you keep going.

You arrive at the second level. And it’s even more magnificent than the first. To your right you see Al Azhar Park, significant for its large and beautiful green space in a city that has so little. In this 360 degree view you see vast numbers of minarets, you hear the call to prayer going off at split-second intervals across the city – a cacophony echoing around you. You see thousands of people, tiny as they go from bazaar to mosque to bus. You see the tent makers bazaar, making out the beautiful colors even from this distance.

 

It’s the view from above. And it is glorious, breath-taking and conversation stopping. But you can go even farther. And once you get to the top, you don’t want to leave – because it took a while for you to get there and you’re so tired. And the stairs going down are still rickety and treacherous, they are still centuries old. But mostly you don’t want to go down because you want to continue to look out over the view, the view above the city, above the chaos. The view from above.

 

It’s this I think about today – for today is Good Friday. The day in the Christian faith where all of life stopped and the world darkened, a curtain in a temple torn from top to bottom. The day when Jesus, God incarnate, was condemned to the death of a criminal and bore our broken world on his shoulders. And today I set aside time to remember that day and focus on the view from above.

 

 That glorious, breath-taking, conversation stopping view. That view that sees the broken world that Jesus died for, the world that Jesus loves, knowing that each day that we fight this fight is worth it.

 

That view that remembers the words a Son called out to a Father “Why have you forsaken me?” A view that sees the grand Salvation narrative, taller and grander than a million minarets, a love that calls to us louder than a billion calls to prayer. The view where all ‘this’ will make sense, wrong will be made right, tears will turn to laughter, and sorrow to joy. We are invited into this view from above, a view where our story falls into the shadows for a time, and God’s great, redemptive narrative is remembered around the world. A story of mercy and grace, where good triumphs over evil and wrong is made right.

 

We from A Life Overseas hail from all parts of the globe. We are from Djibouti and Thailand, Bolivia and Botswana, Mexico and Cambodia, Haiti and Cameroon, Ethiopia and Niger, Egypt and China and so many more places. We go as idealists and we stay as realists. We live in the shadows of Hindu temples and near the courtyards of grand cathedrals; isolated near small villages and among millions in small apartments in Shanghai skyscrapers. We see poverty and suffering, starvation and crime, corruption and inequality. We learn to love when it’s hard and others learn to love us when we’re hard. We know failure, we know pain, we know how human and flawed we are. Yet daily we experience the persistence of God’s redemptive process.
And today no matter where we are in the world, we are invited to remember this view from above.

 

“Finally, as if everything had not been felt enough, Jesus cries out in an agonizing moment in the most powerful words that we will read in the world: ‘My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?’ And I am utterly convinced that the reason he said those words was so that you and I would never have to say them again.” – Ravi Zacharias
Where are you today, right now on this Good Friday? Where can you see the grand story? The view from above.
Enhanced by Zemanta
Print Friendly

About Marilyn

An adult third culture kid, Marilyn grew up in Pakistan and then raised her own 5 third culture kids in Pakistan and Egypt. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts 15 minutes from the international terminal. She works with underserved, minority communities as a public health nurse and flies to the Middle East & Pakistan as often as possible. She is the author of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging and you can find her blogging at Communicating Across Boundaries.
  • Pingback: “On Good Friday – A View from Above” at A Life Overseas | Communicating.Across.Boundaries()

  • “We go as idealists and we stay as realists.’

    I love your posts. This is so accurate!

    • Marilyn Gardner

      Lana- thank you so much. Blessed Easter to you.

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      I agree, this line stuck with me, was so well-put. Oh, and I was at the beach, a three-day campout starting Good Friday and ending Easter Sunday, just got back.

      • Marilyn Gardner

        Blessed Easter to you Rachel! Enjoying God’s beautiful world is a fitting Easter Celebration! Thinking of you today!

  • Christina

    In South Korea, enjoying a Youtube video of a choir singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, nearly transported back to my childhood if I close my eyes!

    • Marilyn Gardner

      That song is a quintessential view from above. Especially considering the deep sadness that so many in S.Korea face with the recent ferry accident. Thinking of you this day.

  • This moved me so very deeply, Marilyn. Tears. Longing. Yes.

    I wonder does he remember His view from above, hoisted up on that cruel tree. How can He forget that sin, yet remember the least of these? Do His own words of forsaken agony ring in His ears as He compels all to come and know an easy yoke? These questions, and more, confound me.

    Thank you for penning this piece.

    • Marilyn Gardner

      It’s amazing reading your questions today on the “Day of the empty tomb!” But they are the ones I have as well. Thank you for these words. This A Life Overseas community is a joy to be a part of on a day like today! The very reason for our being – for our living! He is Risen!

Previous post:

Next post: