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Legend of the Dogwood Tree
By Karen Treharne

I have a special fondness for the dogwood tree. When my husband and I moved into our first home, my parents bought us a dogwood tree which we planted in our front yard. It was only about 4 feet tall then, but it still produced delicate pink and white flowers that sweetened the air with their fragrance.

When we divorced, my father dug up the dogwood for me and planted it in their own front yard. I could not bear to suffer its loss and at least I would be able to watch it as it continued to grow.

My mother died some 28 years later and, at that time, the tree stood over 20 feet tall. During those years, it had become a hallmark of beauty for all who passed its way. It had been sustained under Godís watchful eye and even though it was no longer mine, God was and is preserving it for others to enjoy.

As I sorted through momís belongings one day after her death, I ran across a newspaper clipping that she had saved. It was entitled the Legend of the Dogwood Tree.

According to this legend, at the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood had been the size of the mighty oak and other majestic forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the Masterís cross.

To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus sensed it. In His gentle mercy, God decreed, "Because of your regret and pity for my suffering, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. From now on it shall be slender, bent and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a crossÖtwo 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. The center of the flower will resemble the crown of thorns with bright red, clustered fruit in the center representing the blood of Christ. And all who see it will remember."

I was stunned by this storyís revelation. My mother died Easter week, and her service was held the Saturday eve before. During the days prior, I had prayed for Godís help to focus on the significance of Easter and the knowledge that without the assurance of the resurrection of Jesus, I would not have the certainty that my mom was with Him in heaven. It was like a sign from God.

Since that day, the cross has held a deeper meaning for me. The symbol of Divine Sacrifice and glorious Resurrection. And I also have a deeper feeling for the spiritual representation of the dogwood tree. I easily imagine how the heavens must open on Easter morning to send a brilliant shaft of light streaming down to reveal the beautiful, cross-shaped blossoms on its twisted branches as it stands in front of my family home, so that all who see it will remember our Lord as I do.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband Ken, and father-in-law Ed. Here in "Godís Country", dogwood trees flourish and grow abundantly. It is her desire to share Godís love and blessings with others through her writing.
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