Ed Medbery was handed a small pillow that he was going to need to protect his shoulder while taking part in a Good Friday tradition.
He was going to be carrying a wooden cross over his shoulder for the annual Cross Walk.
The approximate 60-pound, 8-foot-tall cross is kept at Medbery’s home and taken out once a year for a public gathering held on the day that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion.
About 25 people, young and old, met Friday afternoon for a journey that would take them about 5 miles starting on South Locust Street to Ashley Park and Capital Avenue. It’s a two-hour walk that begins with a prayer lead by Medbery, who has taken part in the annual, nondenominational gathering for years.
“A friend of my started this way back when and we wanted to make people aware of the season. Easter is not about a bunny rabbit and Easter eggs,” Medbery said. “The real reason is God gave his son as a penalty for our sins.”
The walk has been held rain, shine or snow for more than 25 years.
Kristy Casarez of Grand Island brought her family that included husband Tony, daughter Abigail, 14, son Thomas, 10, and grandson Kobe, 4, who was riding in a stroller.
The family hadn’t been able to attend the last couple of years because they had other events going on at church on Good Friday, but this year there wasn’t so they wanted to use the walk as an opportunity to reflect on the Easter season.
Those taking part can carry the cross if they choose. Casarez had in past and was going to again.
“For me, when I’m carrying it, I try to do more reflecting on what Christ has done for us. He died for our sins because we are all human and we all make mistakes,” she said.
Her daughter said the event is a chance to think about what Jesus went through carrying the cross after being beaten.
“It’s a way to remember how Jesus died for us. He had to carry the cross for as far as we walk, too, except he had to do it in pain,” she said.
The cross used has a wheel on the end to make traversing curbs a bit easier. Even with that support, Medbery said it still takes a toll and has him considering stepping away from leading the event. At the age of 65, it is getting more difficult for him to make the trek.
“When you start out, it’s not that bad. Then it starts cutting into your shoulder. It makes you think about the pain and agony Jesus went through. Not only was he carrying a cross, he was beaten real bad. He couldn’t even finish the walk. They had to pull a guy from the crowd to help him,” Medbery said, speaking of the bystander Simon of Cyrene.
Anyone is welcome to take part in the walk. There have been ebbs and flows in the number of people participating.
One who has been a regular the last few years is Stan Mallory. He is likely the oldest participant at 87 years old.
He walks all 5 miles and even carries the cross for a bit.
“The people (driving by) are really friendly. They wave at you and acknowledge you. Hopefully they are acknowledging the cross and not me,” he said.
When asked why he continues to come, Mallory looked to the sky.
“The Lord. That’s what brings me out there. That’s it,” he said.
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