Dirk_van_Baburen_-_Kroning_met_de_doornenkroon wikimedia commonsI was resting my head on the stiff airplane seat, exhausted from having woken up so early to get on my flight. As my New Year’s resolution, I had decided to initiate a strictly spiritual commitment, having felt the urge to jump-start my prayer life. I promised myself to recite the rosary once a day, in honor of my consecration to Mary, as well as to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary. I had been faithfully fulfilling my prayer commitments for two weeks already, ecstatic that I was finally carrying out a plan that I had just never seemed to accomplish before.

As soon as the plane took off, the gentle hum of the engines serenaded me to sleep. From my deep sleep I was abruptly woken up- but not from turbulence or the man snoozing next to me. My body didn’t even jolt up from my slouched position, nor did I open my eyes, but my mind was entirely alert. At that moment, I witnessed the Roman soldiers weaving the crown of thorns, their harsh, brute hands hastily forming its disfigured shape. The soldier approached Jesus. There I was, right next to Christ, so close that I could have held His hand. I saw how long the thorns were, and I wanted to crouch back in fear and disgust; but before I could move a muscle, I suddenly felt a ferociously intense pain down my entire spine as they thrust the crown into his skull. My stomach jumped into my throat as my head started to pound. I could no longer feel my heartbeat. Although I was sitting right next to Christ, I was entirely helpless as I witnessed the horrific scene. I wanted to cry, but was so frightened that I couldn’t actually produce any tears. I was feeling his pain as he experienced it- at the same exact time He was. I thought that my own head had actually been pierced by the thorns, but upon opening my eyes, I realized that I was actually still seated in my seat on the plane. There I was, next to a hundred other travelling passengers, most of them sound asleep, totally oblivious to what I had just witnessed, felt and undergone.

I hadn’t been dreaming about Christ’s passion and death the night before, nor had I been thinking about anything of the sort that morning as I boarded the plane. But nevertheless, I suddenly found myself wide awake from my nap- sitting right next to Our Lord, immediately and entirely aware of the horror and pain that Christ felt when those thorns tore through his hair and skin, crushing his skull. I have never experienced something so raw, profound and real before in my entire life. It was as though that split second of sheer pain and agony that I felt held within itself more reality than all the days of my life put together. My mind was not replaying the movie scene from The Passion of the Christ, nor was I recalling some recreation that I had conceived in previous meditations during prayer. It was an entirely new experience for me. I sat stunned and speechless for a while until my mind could finally process what had just taken place.

Upon starting my rosary that night, I realized it was a Tuesday, and that I would be reciting the sorrowful mysteries. I had completely forgotten what day of the week it was, and had no idea that my experience today would be one of the mysteries of which I was to meditate on. I was absolutely astounded. Needless to say, I certainly had a vivid moment to relive in my heart and mind as I prayed that evening.

As terrifying as it was, I thank God for giving me such insight and understanding into His heart. I am no one extraordinary or special. And yet, for a brief moment, I was thrust into the very depths of Christ’s passion, understanding at least a minute amount of pain that our Lord underwent out of love for us, His beloved bride. I was given a beautiful gift that day. Horrific, but beautiful. I only hope that I can hold on to that vision and reflect on it every day, so that I never fail to forget the length at which Christ suffered for me, poor and little as I am.

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