Lenten Journal, Good Friday

It is said that the dogwood used to be a tree of mighty stature, taller and stronger than the oak. It was also a tree that spread around the world. Because of its abundance and strength, it was the tree chosen by the Romans to make the crosses on which they executed criminals.

One day, however, the wood of the dogwood tree was formed into a cross and used to crucify an innocent man, a man who, it turned out, was the Son of God. The dogwood was bereft. Sensing its grief and shame Christ said to the tree, “No longer will you be used for this purpose. You shall from now on grow, not tall and strong, but slender and weak. Further, your flower shall form a reminder of the cross and each petal will bear a mark of the nails. You need not be ashamed, nor need you grieve. You will be a reminder of my willing sacrifice.”

It is said that at time of Jesus’ death a robin was flying over Palestine and stopping to rest, it found itself sitting on the Cross of Calvary, the crucified Lord of all creation hanging just below its feet. Horrified, the little bird tried to pull the nails out of Christ’s wrists, but to no avail. However, so of his blood fell onto the bird as worked, forever staining its breast as a reminder of its bravery and its broken heart.

Do we not all bear such reminders? Are we not, made in the imago dei, the very likeness of the One nailed to the tree crowned with thorns? Is not each of us, in his or her own way, the dogwood and the robin?