This afternoon after a great lunch prepared by my wife, and a long nap, I went outside to enjoy an abnormally warm day for Kansas in November. I started out doing things I should do, like putting away the garden hose, the sprinkler, and things like that. But, then I again was sidetracked to something more “fun” looking. I have been wanting to make some walking sticks out of saplings, and I have watched a small group of trees on my property grow all summer, waiting until the leaves dropped and I could harvest a few of the straighter sticks.
These throny trees are locally known as black locust trees, but I don’t know if that is the actual name. They are completely covered with thorns, sharp little devils that will either rip a shirt, or poke a finger whenever I venture too close. These trees are considered trash trees by my rancher neighbors as they drop piles of thorns on the ground that can get in the hooves, or feet of anything walking around underneath one of these trees. So, they are generally poisoned and cut down and burned with vengeance. Except on my property they are allowed to thrive, until they can be cut down for walking sticks.
I spent about an hour cutting out 7 saplings, cleaning off all of the branches and thorns, and setting them up in my shop to dry. During this dangerous task I couldn’t help but wonder about the Roman guards that fashioned a crown of thorns and pounded it down on the head of a beaten prisoner a little over two thousand years ago. What cruelty, despite the charges of blasphemy. As I worked the little devils off of the sticks and was pricked a half dozen times, I couldn’t help but remember that this same prisoner was raised in the shop of a woodworker, his father’s name was Joseph, a local entreprenuer in the city of Nazareth.
This prisoner claimed to be the expression of God, and also God in flesh, and as such was tortured, mocked, beaten, and crucified on a vertical wooden stake with his arms outstetched on a cross tie.
This same Man was part of the creation Trinity Team that spoke every atom in this atmosphere into being, and the same Man that was responsible for the creation of this nasty little tree with all of it’s thorns.
I couldn’t help wonder what purpose the thorns must serve to the greater good of this universe. Then, during this meditation, I thought about bird nests with little eggs that are protected from snakes and varmits that would climb other trees to raid the nest. Then, I was overwhelmed with the thought that as this prisoner was learning to work wood in His dad’s shop, He would have already known of coming death on a wooden cross, and also of the cruelty He would experience by having long thorns pushed down into his head, while being mocked. All of this was foretold in the Hebrew scriptures, of which He was an eager student.
I finished my little stick gathering venture with an even deeper appreciation for the love of God, and His method of showing me His love through the shed blood and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. A lesson that was well worth the half dozen bleeding holes in my own skin.
Mark DeCou (copywrite 11-5-2006)
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com