We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary with a trip to the Smokey Mountains. We considered other places but we were ready for rest and renewal so this was right for us. Every year, with few exceptions, Jimmy plans a trip in mid-April to "chase the snow;" oops, "chase the Dogwoods." This has been a love of ours for a very long time. We just drive and delight in God's gorgeous landscapes while the magnetism of the mountains pull us like invisible magnets. This time we decided to take a closer look at the Dogwood Tree in all of it's splendor. I will try to share our pleasant journey and do hope you will experience some of our joy while finding, as we did, the spiritual connection and significance of "the aristocrat of all native flowering trees," the Dogwood.
"As a countenance is made beautiful by the soul's shining through it,
so the world is beautiful by the shining through it of God."
Frederick H. Jacoli
Large boulders, some covered with moss, seem to give the meandering streams a song and we were compelled to stop and listen. We made the right choice, the mountains seemed a powerful solace. Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said, "Earth, with her thousand voices praises God." We found this so true. The Dogwood Tree seemed to be clinging to the edge of the banks while the angel-white boughs were bent towards the water that glistened in the sunlight. The simpering breeze now carried the smell of perfume along with a mulchy dampness that was so expected in the air. Huge trees, their branches gnarled with age stood stately still, although their foliage was not yet thick and lush.
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth will prosper." Psalm 1:3
The trout-filled water was now awe-inspiring as the crystal, rushing streams effortlessly flowed along our road. The melody of the flowing and cascading water was also an elixir for our souls. The Dogwood tree was still the "show-stopper" with it's outstretched branches faithfully adorned in white just in time for Easter. This was the beginning of our journey into the study of my most beloved tree. I remember a poem that is popular at Easter- time called, The Legend of the Dogwood:
"In Jesus time, the Dogwood grew to a stately size and a lovely hue.
T'was strong and firm it's branches interwoven for the cross of Christ it's timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood, Christ made a promise which still holds good:
Never again shall the Dogwood grow large enough to be used so...
Slender and twisted, it shall be with blossoms like the Cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown The blossoms center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember me crucified on a cross from the Dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected this tree shall be a reminder to all of my agony."
Psalm 22:1 says, "My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" Reading this information my heart was touched and I began to weep.
Psalm 40:2 says: "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
Finally, it is amazing to note that the extracts from the root of this tree were used to make a "scarlet dye." This final fact pricked my heart once again and I believe I understand more fully why this tree has always been so dear to my heart and why in Spring we drive any distance to revel in it's beauty and relevance.
May we be awakened this Spring to God's true splendor and train our thoughts to desire an attitude and spirit of love as we interact with others to proclaim Christ as Lord of all. As the Dogwood tree stands as a witness for Him, may we ever raise our voice of praise and sacrifice our lives to the glorious Creator and Saviour of the world. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!
Marveled at His wonderful work,
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