By Sister Victoria Incrivaglia
The book of Ecclesiastes poetically tells us that “there is an appointed time for everything.” As each new season approaches, there is anticipation for the new while letting go of the season ending.
This detail of a dogwood blossom is from a dogwood tree in our front yard. I consistently found myself directing my eyes and heart to the beauty and symbolism of the dogwood tree in full bloom.
In the process of rebirth, there are times when both the blossoms and new leaves of the dogwood tree are present simultaneously; both are present to each other yet knowing that change will happen. The engagement of this process is a journey.
The blossoms of the dogwood tree provide rich and numerous symbols, namely rebirth, durability and the ability to withstand various challenges in life.
Spring brought about alternating cool and warm weather, strong winds and, at times, fierce torrents of rain. Through all of this, the petals have remained faithful, being intrinsically present to its function. This is an indicator that only in letting go at the appointed time does it mean that more is to come. The process has impacted the beauty of the blossom, or perhaps it has added strength and resilience to the blossom. The petals have lost some of the brilliance and saturation of their color, being torn by the winds. Markings have appeared, reflecting that the blossoms are making way for new leaves. The base of the tree, blanketed with fallen pink petals, becomes a shroud wrapping the sacredness within.
The upcoming gathering of the Sisters of Mercy—Chapter 2023, Exploring Mercy Anew—uses the symbol of the compass to focus on our reality and set the direction of going forward. Our going forward within this Institute of Mercy is focused in the expression of all our relationships, facing our challenges, complexities and the ordinariness of life. The poem “For the Traveler,” by John O’Donahue, and this dogwood photo reflects the journey that is part of our communal life.