Legend has it that the dogwood tree once grew tall and straight with a thick trunk, and was capable of being made into anything, much like an oak tree. This all changed 2,000 years ago, when a dogwood tree was used to make the cross upon which Christ was crucified. The legend goes:
Because of its firmness and strength, it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: “Because of your sorrow and pity for my sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints—brown with rust and stained with red—and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember.
The legend of the dogwood is not true—it is only a legend. However, there is nothing truer than Christ, than the cross upon which he suffered and endured for our sake. It was our sins that held him to the wood just as much as the nails; we clothe and crown ourselves with our pride, while we strip him of his garments and crown him with thorns. When we look at the cross, we should be distressed and sorrowful, both for the sufferings of Christ and for our sins which put him on the cross.
However, “though [our] sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Is 1:18). Christ changed the dogwood tree into something beautiful because of the sorrow it felt at the cross. Let us have a contrite heart, let us pray that Christ will take our sins and, like he did to the dogwood tree, make something beautiful out of them and out of us.
Photo by copperscaledragon