Dogwood Day

How is it with your soul?

What a strange week! Palm Sunday to Easter with a book launch squeezed in between, all the while an emotional trial in Minneapolis reminding us that the worst of humanity is violence against the innocent.

While taping a podcast about Freeing Jesus, Jim Wallis asked me how it goes with my soul these days. What a question! Happiness for new words in the world, the joy of Jesus’s Easter uprising. Weariness of long pandemic isolation, brokenhearted over the courtroom testimony about a death that never should have happened. My soul? A Janus-like spirit, leaping toward renewal yet still lugging a yoke that is anything but light.

Resurrection, yes. But haunted by the insurrections of fear and falsity that are ripping the world.

And so, after a long day of many Zoom calls and challenging conversations, I walked. For a couple of miles. Right now, my Virginia neighborhood resembles a florist shop, everything blooming, every color in flower. The dogwoods are among my favorites, the odd timber that is both tree and flower. In floral lore, the dogwood symbolizes spiritual rebirth, the blossoms seen as sacred, as tokens of light, bearers of the Christ consciousness to the earth.

The dogwood at the end of my street seemed to call toward me, beckoning to draw near and gaze. There’s an old southern legend that dogwoods grew in Jerusalem — and that one gave its wood for Jesus’s cross. Because of this, the dogwood was cursed (its short stature a ‘punishment’ for being the wood of death) but it also became a blessing. Blessing? For on each twisted branch burst forth petals of lightness and light.

That’s what I felt when Jim asked after my soul. Like the dogwood. Knowing the knottiness of death in this world, yet witnessing the flowering of new life from gnarled wounds. Resurrection, yes. But under the shaded insurrections of the deep forest. The twisted timber, and the most fragile flower.

How’s your soul today?

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The Dogwoods
by Linda Pastan

I remember, in the week
of the dogwoods, why sometimes
we give up everything
for beauty, lose our sense
and our senses, as we do now
for these blossoms, sprinkled
like salt through the dark woods.

And like the story of pheasants
with salt on their tails
to tame them,
look how we are made helpless
by a brief explosion
of petals
one week in April.



The launch of Freeing Jesus continues apace — mostly through online conversations, podcasts, and classes. I’ll continue to send you links here at the Cottage to recorded pods and talks as they are published. And follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for event updates.

You are invited to attend one or both of these special launch events — each offered by great independent bookstores. Please sign-up and bring your friends!

APRIL 7 (TONIGHT), 6:30Pacific/9:30Eastern

The VERY FIRST Freeing Jesus bookstore event is hosted by Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle in partnership with two great churches and the University of Puget Sound. The interviewer is a wonderful friend, Dave Brown, retired pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma and one the Interfaith Amigos of the Pacific Northwest. Dave will have questions — he always has great questions — and I expect this to be a rich exploration of the book, theology, and spirituality.

Info and registration, click HERE.

APRIL 9 (FRIDAY): 6:30Mountain/8:30Eastern

Ah, tell me that you haven’t always wanted to hear me and Nadia Bolz-Weber TOGETHER talking about Jesus. Yep. Me and Nadia. And Jesus. Nothing out of bounds. What could possibly happen?

Denver’s great Tattered Cover Book Store is hosting us for this amazing evening. Don’t miss it.

Info and registration, click HERE.

Please: Get vaccinated as you are able! I just got my second shot. Step up. Don’t be scared. Let’s defeat COVID. And until it is under control, be careful and wear a mask.