Monday, April 27, 2009


Flowering Dogwood

I love the concept of reconciliation. Some of my favorite OED definitions:
1. a. trans. To bring (a person) again into friendly relations to or with (oneself or another) after an estrangement.
b. To recommend, make agreeable.
2. a. To set (estranged persons or parties) at one again; to bring back into concord, to reunite (persons or things) in harmony.
b. To restore to purity, to absolve or cleanse.
c. To make atonement.

At-one. To return.

This afternoon I had a phone call from a friend. We worked together one summer--I had known her before and she helped work this opportunity for me. It turned out to be a very long, difficult, black hole of a summer, and the nature of our assignments put a very heavy strain on our friendship. I wondered if we would ever really be friends again. We had seen each other at conferences and we actually had a great evening together this winter when she was in town. She actually provided me with an immense emotional support in my own time of trouble, which I didn't even realize I really needed, let alone from her. But oh how I drew upon her and her own experience of past trouble.

So when she called me this afternoon and asked me to lead her panel session at a conference, I was touched. I feel like we've come full circle. She trusts me; I respect her. We have reconciled our differences.

One of my favorite movies is The Painted Veil, with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. They worked through one of those heart-wrenching reconciliations that makes for a great movie complete with incredible Chinese scenery and fantastic costumes. And provokes an immense amount of thought. Why is this return, this reunion, this reconciliation, so vital to our relationships, to our own personal well-being, to our purpose in life? Why must it be heart-wrenching?

I've come to the conclusion that a true reconciliation involves a complete change of heart, a submission, a letting-go of expectation and hurt and the past. It means turning instead to the future. To hope. To believe and to achieve an even higher level of charity.

I love that I live in an area right now blanketed with dogwood blossoms. As one of the last blooms of spring, the dogwood, while perhaps not as exciting as those first cherry blossoms, certainly symbolize an extension of the rebirth of spring. And for that reason I love them.

There is a legend, that at the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber of the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering said to it: "Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross. ..two long and two short petals. And 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 it will remember."

1 comment:

Laurel said...

beautiful, Reeder.

I was just soaking in the dogwood outside my parent's home in STL and my mom told me about this very legend this very morning.

reconciliation is a very good thing.
i've recently had one myself.
you put it well.