The Holy Dove and a Crown of Thorns

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.

...Long thorns.
Cruel thorns.

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.
Lost innocence.
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
turning-the-world-upside-down hope,
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.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “The Holy Dove and a Crown of Thorns”

  1. Keith Shields

    This is powerful imagery. Thank-you.


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