Recently, I visited the Holy Lands and made the Palm Sunday walk down the Mount of Olives. One of our stops along the route was Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept for Jerusalem. On that hillside were thorn trees that are believed to have been the same type of thorns used to crown Jesus at the beginning of His passion. The size and thickness of those thorns was staggering, and the vision has not left me. In fact, I have been almost fixated on those thorns for weeks now, and I think I have finally figured out why.
For years, I pictured those thorns the same way most of us probably pictured them, like thorns from a rose bush or a blackberry bush. Those annoying, little thorns that catch on your clothes as you walk by, and prick your finger when you try to cut off a rose or gather a bucket of berries. Never had I imagined the thorns as anything other than small nuisances. Yes, they were sharp, and yes, they would have drawn blood and caused pain, but in comparison to everything else that Jesus went through, were they really all that bad? Was I ever wrong about that! I can barely stomach the thought of those long, thick, sharp-as-a-spear thorns digging into Jesus’ scalp, his forehead, his skull. But that’s not the worst of it, not at all the reason why I can’t let the image go.
You see, I’ve gone through my entire life brushing away the small, annoying thorns. I’d prick my finger, wipe away the blood, and move on. I never looked back to see if, perhaps, the thorns were bigger than I imagined, the damage done, more than I intended. Were those words I said really just insignificant, skin-deep pricks, or punctures that were deep enough to cut into someone’s soul? Were my broken promises like little, thorny sticks cast into the wind, or did they rip through things unseen by me as I moved through my life without looking back to assess what I had left undone? Have I held my friends and loved ones gently, avoiding any hurt I might cause them, or did I grab in haste whatever I wanted without giving thought to others, tearing away the proverbial flesh of the ones I loved the most?
The thorns of the Ziziphus Spina-christi tree will always be a reminder to me that few things in life are as small or insignificant as we imagine them to be. Sometimes, what we think of as the smallest sins are actually the large thorns that tear into our souls and separate us from the Creator. As I watch the news and see the horrible things being said by candidates of both parties, I feel the dig of the thorns. As I listen to the way we all speak to each other with blatant disregard for feelings, I feel the punctures to my heart. As I recount all of the times I haven’t been there for others in need and think about all of those throughout the world in need of food, shelter, and peace who are receiving little or no comfort, I feel the piercing of my soul. Can others see the blood as it runs down the faces of those being cut by the thorns we all crown them with? Are these the images that Jesus sees when He looks down into the world? Does He still weep?
I pray that we all are able to realize just how deep those cuts go. Nothing is insignificant. We must all try to walk through life avoiding the thorns before the damage we do is irreversible, the wounds too deep to heal.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is due out in the summer of 2016.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)