The Forest Stations

The Forest Stations were created by local artist William Fairbank

Beautifully crafted out of natural wood, they take us on a journey through dark human actions, oppression, injustice and cruelty as well as degradation, humiliation and murder.

They encourage a response from us to the human depravity in the world.

And to ponder the man Jesus.

We see even in intolerable torture that love is present and more powerful than all the power and cruelty displayed.

Today in your life….

Where are the degrading human influences at play? Hatred, cruelty, deceit….
Where can you see and experience the love in you, and the love God has for you?

At each station you may wish to contemplate the image, the wood and the words here below.

FIRST STATION: Jesus is sentenced to death

Jesus remains silent and composed as the crowd calls for this death.  Pilate finds no guilt in Jesus, yet orders his murder.
People look on – ‘It is not my fault. It is not my business’
Many people and many animals  live lives of complete humiliation, with no way out – meanwhile we consume away… is it really not our fault?
Do we respond and stand in solidarity with them?  Or are we focused so much on our own lives we fail to notice or act or even care?
Love may be quiet but it is strong – you may try to kill it but that does not make it go away and it does not weaken it.

SECOND STATION: Jesus carries his cross

The guards give Jesus a heavy wooden cross to carry.
The cross he will die on. Degrading torture and the only release will be death.
People carry many worries and troubles around with them.
We can also place these on others.
Take time to reflect on this, can we reduce the load we carry?
Do we need to burden others with our judgments our hostility and cruelty?
Love is not put off by humiliation.

THIRD STATION: Jesus falls for the first time

Carrying the heavy cross, Jesus is worn down by fatigue and pain.  He falls.
Were they rejoicing over his stumbling?
Had his goodness made them feel less than him? Was he now less than them?
When we carry too much eventually the body collapses –
Have any of your choices made others stumble?
Have you been brought to collapse by others?
Love will carry its burden. It will also carry yours

FOURTH STATION: Jesus meets his mother

Mary meets Jesus on his way to crucifixion.  A mother who nurtured, encouraged and loved him.
A mother watching in deep pain as she is unable to save or help her son.
Throughout the world many mothers grieve today – when they are unable to provide food, medicine or comfort for their children. When a child dies. Mothers do not stop loving.
Be brave and stand alongside those who suffer and grieve.
Love stands alongside even in unbearable situations

STATION FIVE: Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene

Simon did not know Jesus but he lent his strength to help Jesus carry the heavy weight of the wooden cross.
During this pandemic, many people need help and support.
Can you find opportunities to help others, especially the vulnerable, the hidden, the forgotten?
Love steps up to support the vulnerable
Love accepts help from the strong

STATION SIX: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Moved by his pain, Veronica steps out of the crowd to wipe the blood and sweat from Jesus’ face.  An act of love and compassion. A love which overcomes fear.
Over these past months, many in the medical profession have cared for people in pain, people dying.  Working with courage and compassion in very difficult times.
We are not all medics, but we can all offer small acts of kindness and generosity for others.
Love is found in simple acts of touch and care

STATION SEVEN: Jesus falls for the second time

Under the weight of the cross, Jesus again falls.
Sometimes it is hard to keep going. Another challenge, a loss of hope and we buckle
Take time to rest and pause.  Be kind to yourself.
Love is the nobility and the strength deep inside us

STATION EIGHT: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Jesus sees the women of Jerusalem weeping for him. Moved by their tears, Jesus asks them not to weep for him but for themselves and their children.
Even in his pain and exhaustion, Jesus has empathy for these women and stops to speak to them.
Many things cause us suffering, many things cause us to weep.  In amongst pain and suffering, love holds us. Reach out to others and to God.
It is awful to walk this walk with Jesus – but
Love walks with us now and on our lesser journeys

STATION NINE: Jesus falls the third time

The journey has been long and gruelling. Jesus is exhausted yet he finds the reserves of energy to stand again and continue the final steps.
Sometimes overwhelming, this pandemic has changed our lives.  Loneliness, illness, death, loss of freedom, anxiety, financial struggles, relationship difficulties.  The world struggles with poverty, climate change, injustice, animal cruelty
This can all feel overwhelming. Hand this to God.
Love is not blind to the challenges or the suffering yet it continues

STATION TEN: Jesus is stripped of his clothes

Jesus arrives at his place of execution. He is stripped of his clothes, his dignity – he has nothing left.
Do we recognise dignity in our own lives?  In the lives of others?
Throughout the world, the vulnerable and the poor are stripped of their homes, their communities, their hopes. Women are degraded in many cultures. In looking for a place of safety, victims, people, animals, all beings  are often met with hostility and callus degradation .
No abuse can degrade love
Love is is humble, patient, clean and bright. It is transcendent.

STATION ELEVEN: Jesus is nailed to the cross

The soldiers drive nails through Jesus’ hands and feet, nailing him to the cross.  A brutal and terrible way to die. Jesus who healed the sick, met with the poor, reached out to the vulnerable of society, young and old, those shunned and those exalted. He touched those who society values less.
Jesus taught us that religion is not about power plays or special groups but love and compassion for all.
Jesus challenged the religious and political elites . He showed a new way – how to live from the heart of God.  A place of deep peace, love and compassion.  Religious political and financial elites found this challenging and for this he was executed.
Where does our society today need to change?  Do we live and act out of love, or out of our egos? What would the world look like if we all lived out of our noble selves?
Love is not elitist

STATION TWELVE: Jesus dies on the cross

Jesus cries out he is thirsty.  A sponge soaked in vinegar is held to his lips. He drinks.
When he had received the drink, Jesus says ‘it is finished’.
Love cries out – in the body there is suffering and there is death
Love radiates. Greater than Faith or even Hope; Love does not die.

STATION THIRTEEN: Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross

People were normally left hanging on the cross after their death, but Pilate gave permission for Jesus’ body to be taken down from the cross. It meant Jesus’ body was treated with dignity, gentleness and respect – held in love.
In times of difficulty, sadness and suffering, small acts can have a good and positive impact on others.
You will have done this – you will have seen this done.
Love is patient, it moves quietly and tends to needs. It does not look for thanks it comes out of the depth of being.

STATION FOURTEEN: Jesus’ body is laid in the tomb

There was little time to prepare Jesus body before Sabbath (the Jewish day of rest and prayer). Joseph of Arimathea, one of Jesus’ followers, worked with courage and urgency to wrap Jesus’ body in a linen cloth, place him in a tomb and roll a stone over the door for protection.
Jesus taught Joseph of Arimathea that even when it is embarrassing or may bring criticism or personal loss – love calls us to act in love.
It seems even then that Jesus’ teaching and his love are not dead.
Love lies quietly like a seed in the winter earth – quiet and waiting to grow

STATION FIFTEEN: Jesus rises from the dead

Jesus is alive – he is risen.
The Truth rises and lives in us and around us today.
Allow your inner self to experience hope, peace, deep joy and happiness –
Jesus’ Wisdom holds us in our joy and in our sorrows, suffering and difficulties….
The love of God – is beautiful in you

Be still

Feel it

The Love of God is beautiful in you