Dogwood Dream

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source: kcolwell

On my favorite Christmas Eve, we had an ice storm.

I was in high school and woke to a world with no power, and my parents outside assessing the situation. I heard their voices through my window (signs of a house built in 1990?) and as I peered through, I nearly cried.

My beloved dogwood tree was bent to the earth, weeping with the ice crystals.

My first question to my parents was if my little dogwood would make it through the storm. I remember being criticized for caring about a tree when we had no power for the foreseeable future, no way to travel, no generator.

But at that moment all that seemed to matter was my tiny tree, which could be seen from my window and only mine. Its white blossoms felt hopeful each Spring. No matter the heat, the tree bloomed, the chinks in its petals setting it apart from all other trees.

This morning I walked across campus, breathing in the beauty of the dogwoods. We have pink, cream, and white ones, all gloriously blooming on our mini-mountain.

Have you heard the legend of the dogwood? It says that the cross of Christ  was made from a dogwood tree. After the crucifixion, God cursed the trees so they would not grow as large anymore.

The interpretation I read even said that pink dogwoods are pink because they are embarrassed at their part in the crucifixion.

dogwood blooms
source: circulating

A more solid connection is that believers saw the dogwood flower as a symbol of the cross: the notches in the petals symbolized where the nails were placed, and the small rust dots on the petals were like blood.

Already this morning I was counting the precious pink petals among my thousand gifts. With the further meaning, it makes my heart swell.

I may not have a dogwood outside my window right now – merely an amazing view of the Tennessee River – but it’s a future possibility as we may move around campus. As long as we live on campus, though, I’ll always have dogwoods nearby.

I’ll let their image imprint my mind and mingle with that of the cross. A perfect Easter gift, nature crying out in praise.

11 thoughts on “Dogwood Dream

  1. What a beautiful story. I know how you felt, about the tree. When I was younger, there were three amazingly huge, gorgeous trees that grew in our back and side yards. I could see all of them through my windows, so it was like sleeping in a tree house. One by one, each of them was either knocked down in a storm or simply withered because of unknown reasons. Each time we lost one, I felt as if a good friend had gone. So glad you have your dogwood trees again.

  2. Jess, this is my favorite sign of Easter, too. In fact, we found a dogwood yesterday (in the back parking lot of a store) and had to stop, take pictures and pick one for ourselves!

    It’s not Easter to me until those Dogwoods come up showing Jesus’ sacrifice for us! Our old house had THE MOST BEAUTIFUL dogwoods in the world. And this house has one measly one (which I’m still very excited about) and yesterday I told Les, “When we move, if we don’t have dogwoods, can we please buy some? All I want to do is sit under a dogwood all Spring long.”


    • I’m not sure I had ever made the Easter-dogwood connection before yesterday. So cool to think about. They are such beautiful trees! I wish I had taken pictures yesterday when it was so beautiful and sunny.

  3. I planted a pear tree right outside my office window so that I can see its beautiful flowers in the spring. Shhh — don’t tell Uncle Tom; he thinks it’s to shade the house! Dogwoods bring back memories of Easter visits to Aullwood for me, and probably for your daddy, too. Beautiful post!

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