The Power of Images: The Celtic Cross

By: Scott Buresh, Founder and 8th Grade Teacher

From Cambridge’s inception we had an intuitive sense of the power of images. Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart describes how the images we fill our minds with have a formative impact on what we think and therefore feel. Images are concrete and specific representations of entire systems of ideas and thus are laden with deep emotional significance. I think of the power of American flags hanging from nearly every overpass on I-95 and 695 after 9-11. The flag came to represent our common hopes and fears as a nation under attack.

For Cambridge, a couple of images captured our imaginations from the beginning as we sought to convey the richness of the educational experience we were hoping to offer students as we discovered our God given destinies together. When we walk into the lobby of Cambridge, we see the portrait of a lion prominently displayed next to the office door. It’s not just any lion, but Aslan, the central character of the Chronicles of Narnia. That one image stirs connections with the Son of the Emperor across the Sea, who embodies all that is good and loving and holy. He is the hope of all the talking creatures of Narnia, their guide, their protector, their self-sacrificing leader. Sound familiar?

Aslan connects wonderfully with the Celtic Cross and all that it represents. Dallas Willard suggests that Jesus, the Master of images, carefully selected the cross to be the central image for His followers. In one powerful symbol we see “the lostness of man as well as the sacrifice of God and the abandonment to God that brings redemption.”1 In the cross we remember that God entered His Creation, took on a body, and sacrificed His life so that we could live. The cross symbolizes death to all that diminishes us and separates from our Creator and Father so that we can receive life in all the fullness God intended when He created us. This is our hope for each and every child and teacher and parent who is a part of the Cambridge community.

The Celtic saints cultivated a deep sense of wonder at the majesty and transcendence of the Trinity while embracing their tender closeness to us through creation and community. They created large standing crosses that they erected at sites where people had experienced the transforming power of God’s presence in gathering places and in creation. They engraved Biblical scenes and symbols of the Trinity and eternity for a largely illiterate population hungry to know the One who created them. They added the circle to represent the cross bursting through the Sun (creation) and Jesus coming as the light of the world. 

So, what do we take in when we reflect on the Celtic Cross that symbolizes Cambridge? We sense the greatness and otherness of our Creator who at the same time is very close to each one of us, if we take time to notice. We sense the intimacy and the community of the Trinity that we are invited into. We sense the invitation to a pilgrimage of awe and wonder and discovery and transformation, all in the richness of community with God Himself and with each other as fellow image bearers. We sense hope and love and joy and peace and strength; we get a glimpse of life the way it is intended to be.

1 Renovation of the Heart, pg. 99

Lisa Bond