I was teaching for the Creation Care Studies Program in Belize some years ago. Sylvia and I team up to teach a course on “God and Nature” that attempts to engender a biblical imagination for creation care amongst our undergraduate students participating in this study abroad program.
One of the requirements of my half of the course was a “reflection paper.” But I emphasized that I was more interested in “reflection” than in “paper” and gave the students freedom to be as creative as they liked. One danced, another created an installation piece, another read poems, there was a photographically shaped creative prose piece, and one student produced a crown of thorns. This short reflection is inspired by that student’s contribution.
It was a crown of thorns
that she so gingerly held in her hands.
A crown of thorns
harvested that day from a Belizian bush.
Thorns woven into a perfect circle.
How she did that without spilling her own blood,
…I do not know.
A crown of thorns.
…Symbol of our fallenness.
…Emblem of a broken life.
…Life tragically out of balance.
A crown of thorns.
…Symbol of our redemption.
…Emblem of sacrificial love.
…Sign of forgiveness.
…Hope of restoration.
And in a moment
of breathtaking beauty,
in a moment of
she produced a feather.
…The feather of a dove held high,
…hovering over that crown of thorns.
…...The holy dove
……She will be caught again
……bought and sold
……and bought again
……the dove is never free
So sings Leonard Cohen.
And the evidence seems to be on his side.
The dove is a symbol in captivity.
The dove is never free.
Unless she finds her home in a crown of thorns.
…And so my friend planted the feather in that crown.
…The dove will make her nest in the crown of thorns.
…That cruel crown of death will harbour new life.
…The place of death becomes the site of birth.
…Shalom is born anew.