By Emily Wells
Easter is season for Christians around to world to celebrate and remember the suffering and sacrifice our Lord went through so that abundant life may be found through him. Although the passion story is something that should be appreciated all year long, I’ve personally always enjoyed the fact that Easter is celebrated in the spring time. As nature shakes off winter’s freeze, it is a simple, yet profound reminder to me that were it not for Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, my soul would be in a perpetual “winter.”
Although Montreat’s spring weather of late has been more resembling of mid-winter, new life is budding as spring is trying to break in. At my home in Eastern North Carolina, I am able to look out my bedroom window and see proof of this in the dogwood tree that sits directly in my view. Currently, itty bitty green buds sit on the branches and soon it will boast thick, white blossoms. The dogwood tree itself is also a representation of Easter. As a child, I remember hearing the legend of dogwood tree and how it is a symbol of the Easter story.
The legend goes like this: In Jesus’ time, dogwood trees grew in Jerusalem. Then, dogwoods were tall, large, and similar to oak trees in strength. Because of its mightiness, the tree was chopped down and made into the cross Jesus was crucified upon. This role gave the tree both a curse and a blessing. The curse was that after Jesus’ crucifixion the dogwood tree never grew to it’s previous stature and glory again. From then on it grew short and twisted so that it could never be used for crucifixion again. The blessing was the beautiful petals that grew on the knobby branches. These petals are symbolic, too. They appear in groups of four on each blossom, growing in the shape of a cross. The end of each petal is indented, as if by the nails that were driven in Jesus’ hands and feet. Some blossoms even have spotted coloring that resembles drops of blood. Lastly, the center of the flower points out in all angles, similar to the crown of thorns Jesus wore as he was crucified.
Although this is all just legend, it was a clear explanation of Jesus’ crucifixion to me as a child and is still what I think about when I look at a dogwood tree today. It reminds me of how vast and incomprehensible God’s love is for us and how undeserving I am of that love. While I am at home for Easter, my dogwood tree is budding and revealing fresh life in its foliage as I celebrate my fresh life gained through Jesus’ resurrection.