April 21, 2003

Symbols of Christ and Easter

Many believe that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and it was on that day while establishing a new trail through the forest to the peninsula where we hold our Sunset Services (www.sunsetservices.org), that I looked up, at what I had believed for years to be a mature pine tree, and the bark was covered with thorns! It was a huge locust, a species that I have always called a “Crown of Thorns Tree”.

Saturday is believed by many to be the day of Jesus’ resurrection and on this day I was preparing for our traditional Easter Sunrise Vigil. (www.eastersunrise.org) Many signs had appeared pointing to the sanctity of this special day. A lone Pelican had flown past my parent’s house just moments before I had arrived for lunch, and then, a few minutes later a young eagle flew by, pausing for a moment to dive to the water in search of fish.

After lunch I went to the Cathedral to sit on the boulders above Hippo Rock. The waves were crashing toward the Hippo and jets of water splashed through his stone eye socket. I looked up toward the bush that serves as home to the great Diamond Back Water Snake that guards the Rock of Anointment. She had just shed her skin and was curled up in the branches of the bush. Her poise and beauty and lack of fear of me was inspirational. (visit www.godlovessnakes.org)

Only the day before, I had taken two visitors to view the Hippo Rock and God’s great serpent was snoozing on the warm rock. Much to the shock of our visitors, I lay down beside her and gave her a brief caress with my fingers. She did not move except for turning her head to stare at me with a Mona Lisa gaze.

I sat in a bench by the Cross for a moment, to watch the mysterious action of the waves as they danced to and fro in the sporadic sunlight, and then returned to the jeep that was parked near the small Crown of Thorn Tree that had been chopped down by mistake by my father’s pyramid builders. It was sprouting new growth from the stub that remained. Just in time for Easter!!!

Returning to the trailhead I began to forge my way through a dense thicket. A thorn pierced the skin of my finger. I pulled it out with my teeth and my finger began to bleed rather profusely, leaving a strange design of drying blood. The pain from this tiny thorn was momentarily intense, and looking down at the flowing blood, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ agony on the Cross.

As I made my way deeper into the forest I began to see the faded petals of Dogwoods on the forest floor, in a spot where I had never seen any before. Looking up, there were three small examples of the tree that according to tradition served as the Cross of Jesus’ Crucifixion. The three Dogwoods standing in a row reminded me of the three Crosses at Golgotha but were far too small to serve for crucifixions, and thus reminded me of the legend of the Dogwood and its admonition by God to never grow large enough to serve as a cross of crucifixion again.

As it was growing late in the day and I was tired, I returned to my jeep only to discover that a branch had become stuck beneath it. I tried to pull in out with my bare hands but it was covered with thorns. I took my clippers to grab it to pull it out. When I achieved success, I clipped off the end of one of the branches to examine the thorns. There were three of them and each was in the shape of a perfect CROSS!!!

Ethicius I

From the Holy Trinity Wilderness Cathedral

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