This handy paperback is designed as both a "spiritual travel guide" to the Holy City of three great religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and a Lenten resource. Edward Hays is the author of 26 other books on prayer, spirituality, and original parable stories. He is also a gifted illustrator, and this book is distinguished by 25 original pencil drawings, many depicting Jesus and the cross. Use these "Visual Reflections" as an opportunity to draw closer to the events in the last days of Jesus' life. Hays has organized this Lenten journey around 20 stations of the cross rather than the traditional 14 or the ones inspired by the Vatican II liturgical renewal. There is a reflection for each day of Lent, as well as the major feasts of the Easter Season.
Hays hopes that the book can provide a real pilgrimage experience for "homebound and workbound pilgrims." Sadly, war and conflict in the Middle East have cut down on the number of individuals and groups who are traveling to the Holy Land today. But for those yet to go, and especially for those who have already been, Hays's movement through the key sites in and around Jerusalem will be a spiritually valuable adventure.
Hays begins with the First Station of Christ's baptism in the Jordan and moves along the streets of Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa , through Crucifixion on Calvary, and on to the resurrection and the twentieth station of Ascension. We were especially taken by the author's reflections on the Garden of Gethsemane. Anyone who has seen this grove of gnarled and tangled trees knows what a striking and haunting place it is. Hays notes: "Like the three chosen disciples, you and I typically dread facing physical pain and emotional suffering. We are paralyzed by moments of truth and are prone to flee from them whenever possible. Yet God's Gethsemane is not a garden for growing olives but rather for cultivating heroes and heroines. This Station of Holy Gethsemane is not found just in the Holy City of Jerusalem. It is also located in any home or hospital, in any time of crisis and decision, any place of sacrifice and suffering."
Imagination is an essential faculty for Lent, a time when Christians are challenged to see the world with fresh eyes. Hays does just that on the two facing pages containing his pencil drawings of "The Washing of Feet" and "The Washing of the Hands." One depicts selfless service and the other, selfish irresponsibility. Check out the sketch titled "The Friday Victory Snake Dance" (above right), and you will see Golgotha as you have never seen it before.
A prayer that Hays calls us to say each day sums up the meaning of this Lenten journey: "Let me take up my cross and follow you, Lord Jesus, for by so doing I share in the liberation of the world." Set your imagination to work on just what that liberation is to be in these troubled times.