One of the great Easter traditions is the flowering of the cross. People bring and place colorful fresh flowers on a drab wooden cross. What’s behind this? Is it just a pretty decoration? Well, it does look beautiful but there are also some beautiful traditions and meanings associated with the flowering of the cross.
The sixth century hymn (#166) we sing on Good Friday celebrates this beauty with these words:
“Faithful cross! Above all other, one and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom, none in fruit thy peer may be.”
The tree of life in the Garden of Eden has often been seen as a prefiguring of the cross. Some legends even say that the wood of Christ’s cross came from the tree of life or from a tree that grew from seeds of the tree of life. There is another legend that says at Christ’s death the cross burst into blooming flowers. Art work from the sixth century shows a flowering cross.
I don’t know if any of this really happened but I know it all to be true. The point in all this is that the cross of Christ is the new tree of life and every cross now flowers with new life. Death has been defeated and Christ is risen. Alleluia!