The Changed Cross

Dear Deb,

In a very old poem called “The Changed Cross,” a woman is feeling overburdened by her life. She feels cheated, is certain her cross is heavier than that of anyone she knows. So she prays and asks God if she can choose a different cross. God says OK because that’s the way he is. He leads her to a room filled with crosses of all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Some we mounted on the wall, some leaning against each other, and some piled in hilly mounds on the floor.

The woman is ecstatic; she is thrilled to be able to pick her own cross, one better suited to her strength and abilities. The first one to catch her eye looks as though it belongs to royalty. Smaller than most, it is made of gold and set with rubies, opals, and diamonds. But when she picks it up, she almost falls over backwards with the weight of it. She finds another cross that looks like it was knit with fresh flowers. She tries to find a spot to lift it without damaging any of the fragrant blossoms, and when she discovers a small opening, she wraps her hands around it to test it’s weight. Piercing thorns beneath the blooms bite into her flesh, and she gasps at the shock of it.

The woman goes from cross to cross trying as many as she can and rejects them all until she finds a simple wooden one. It’s almost as tall as she is, and the wood is polished and smooth where it had been carried. It has no embellishments except for a few words inscribed near the base. The woman picks it up and finds it the easiest to carry. Still heavy, but manageable. She feels as though her small hands were made to hold it. When she crouches down to read the inscription, she sees her name on it with a love note: “My child, this is your cross, the one you have carried all along, the one that became too heavy when you tried to carry it alone.”


DEAR DEB by Margaret Terry


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