Legend of dogwood reminder of Christ’s death

Published 1:51 am Saturday, March 30, 2019

The other day I walked up to a bank of azaleas and the place was buzzing.  Busy bees were collecting deposits from the blossoms.  Before the workers could get to every flower, the wind blew a layer of golden dust on my car.

Azaleas dressed in brilliant shades of pink, bushes of white bridal wreath, and dogwood trees shout the arrival of spring.  The flowers appear to be at their peak, but petals are beginning to fall to the ground.  It only takes a wind or heavy rain and the blossoms let go and lay a colorful carpet on the grass.

The dogwoods remind me of a legend.  At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the dogwood grew as tall and straight as an oak or elm; until the day it was chosen as the timber for the cross.

While Jesus was nailed upon it, the legend goes on to say, He sensed the dogwood’s sadness for being used for such a cruel purpose.  During His dying hours, He told the tree, “Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross.”

Not only would the tree be slender and bent, its branches would grow blossoms with four petals shaped like a cross.  At the center of each petal, a rust-colored stain would represent the nail prints of Jesus.  The cluster of seeds in the middle would resemble the crown of thorns on His head.

Though its source may be unknown, the “Legend of the Dogwood” gives us a visible reminder of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for every man, woman, boy and girl.  When the dogwood blooms, it speaks to us about Christ.

But there’s another message in the dogwood for each of us.  Like the beautiful blossoms of the dogwood, our mortal existence is short-lived.  There’s a time to be born and a time to die.  I have been reminded of that fact recently, having attended memorial services for two friends.

Just as the dogwood was never the same after Christ’s crucifixion, when you and I come to Christ, we will never be the same.  A personal relationship with Jesus Christ will change the way we live.

The apostle Paul put it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).

Alexander Pope wrote an “Essay to Man” in which he coined the phrase, “Hope springs eternal.”  And, there’s a song that tells us, “Hope will spring eternal in the hearts of those who know that loving eyes will follow everywhere we go.”  Every spring, the beautiful flowers and trees made by our Creator God remind us that hope remains eternal.

Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jan@janwhitewriter.com.