The Nail or the Cross?

A friend of mine gave me a nail for Lent. It made me think about the things that I am attached to: my opinions and beliefs, my need to be right, and my need for other people to recognize that I am right.

But as I meditated on this nail and looked more closely at it, I realized that to practice detachment--to let go of those things that prevent me from being truly compassionate and whole--I have to pull out the nails; it's not enough to just look at the cross. For too long, I have only looked at my attachments without realizing how I was attached to them.

Why do I hold on to my beliefs so tightly? Why do I feel the need to convince other people that I am right and that they need to listen to me? The answer to those questions is that I am afraid of being irrelevant. That's the nail that pins me to my cross and causes me--and others--to suffer.

Christ died on the Cross because he was nailed to it. If we only focus on our crosses--the burdens of our suffering--without understanding what nails us to them, we will continue suffer and never know true and perfect joy.

By Frank Vincentz (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

By Frank Vincentz (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Unforgiving steel
pierces both the flesh and tree--
The nail, not wood, kills.