We have stations of the cross every day in New York City, most notably during rush hour. There's always someone cranky on the platform, trying to shove their way into a crowded train when they're already late for work. And people running pell-mell down the stairs and sprinting up to the closing doors, which then slam in their face as the train pulls away.
But this is Holy Week, so let's talk about stations of the Cross. This is a little different. The path from Pilate to the crucifixion itself has been broken down into XII steps, set up as XII separate stations for people to stop and engage their sense of touch as they meditate and pray on the sins, suffering, and grace on that path.
You start at Station I, with a bowl of water and a small towel to give a sense of Pilate washing his hands of the matter as he handed an innocent man over to suffering and death. Later, you touch rough sand and stones as Jesus falls for the first time when carrying the heavy load. At another point, you can hold (and take as a souvenir) a small metallic cross which is quite light -- no comparison with the real thing -- but is a trigger for the mantra "May I carry your cross?" At alternative stations, we are to pray the Lord's prayer. Station XII is a picture of Jesus dying on the cross, and we are asked to think again about the sacrifice.
I went through the stations rather quickly and quietly so that I would be done before the hordes came in. Even so, I was able to get a sense of how powerful this experience is. Next year I'll just go as a worshiper and take my time on each station. I almost want to create my own stations - there should be wood and thorns as well, I think.