Sunday, March 29, 2015

52 Blessings - Green Beans and Easter

“If it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label

You will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table.

If it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label.”

We sang that ditty over and over while eating our sandwiches and chips. Excitement. That’s what makes children babble and repeatedly chant. We were wound up that day because it was The Tour and everyone in our 4-H club had their animals washed, blow-dried and combed waiting for our leaders and club members to come to our homes and see them. The day was especially looked forward to because the tour ended at the hot springs with a pot-luck supper afterwards. I was giddy because I had a brand new, scooped neck, orange shirt—a birthday gift from my sisters—to wear.

Since Dad was our 4-H leader, the tour started at our house. After everyone had seen our animals, we loaded up for the next stop. I climbed in a car with a neighbor girl a few years older than me and we hurried to her house so she could get her animal brushed off before everyone arrived. We pulled onto the cement pad in front of their family garage and I climbed out of the station wagon. The family’s big German shepherd dog greeted me. Being freshly ten years old, I didn’t have to stoop far to pet him. He barked, put his paws on my chest and pushed me back a little and then bit my face. He left teeth marks on the bridge of my nose and then as his teeth slid down my face they tore the skin between my upper lip and nose into two pieces. A thin layer of skin inside my mouth held the two pieces together, but the outer layers were torn apart. Blood dripped down my orange shirt.

The girl’s mother quickly came around from her side of the car and yelled, “Lock up the dog!” She led me into the kitchen and put a cold washrag on the gape. She also gave me a different shirt and began rinsing and ringing mine in the sink. When Dad arrived he took me to the doctor. The tour went on without us.

The doctor took one look at my lip, laid me down on the table and put a paper towel with a little hole over my face. Then he deadened the flesh and began stitching the pieces back together. He apologized for taking so long and putting in so many stitches, but said he didn’t want it to pucker and scar. The room spun as he worked, it felt like a ride at the fair. When he and the nurse finished sewing, they gave me a tetanus shot and told Dad to check the dog for rabies. We got in the car and drove to the swimming pool where the 4-H club was. I sat with my bandaged lip and watched the other kids swim and eat. It hurt to smile.

The lip healed, but not without a lump. The pieces didn’t fit the same after they’d been torn apart and the lip thickened as scar tissue formed. When I smiled, the lump hung; when I frowned, the lump hung. It didn’t interfere much, but it didn’t bend. The doctor suggested plastic surgery to remove the lump, so the next year my mother drove me to a large hospital several hours away and a surgeon removed the excess scar tissue. Again, after some time, my lip healed and today, other than having one extra deep laugh-line from my nose to my lip, the scar is not noticeable.

One time my heart felt like my lip - torn.  It was ripped into two pieces, an emotional tear, but it felt physical. It ached. It throbbed. It hurt to smile. But like my lip, with the right attention, my heart healed. Like my lip, when it healed it didn’t fit back together the same as it had before. Though mended and healthy, some scar tissue formed from doubt, injustice and fear and my heart felt a little thick in a spot or two. Although my heart beat the same as before it was torn, I wanted the scar tissue removed. I didn’t need something extra hanging on to a perfectly good heart. And like my lip, an expert physician was needed—a Master Physician. Carefully, with perfect tools, He cut away the thickness and my heart once again felt soft and impressionable.

Life is full of bumps, bruises, tears and scars, stitches and healing. And yet, as painful as things may be, because of the real celebration of Easter we know we don’t suffer alone or needlessly. We know that the Son of God sacrificed so that our pains could be temporary and death impermanent. I am humbly and eternally indebted for His ability to heal my heart as well as forgive my sins.

Today begins the celebration of Holy Week. Palm Sunday reminds us of the final time that Christ entered Jerusalem. On that “triumphal entry” he rode a donkey which signaled He came in peace and humility, yet royally. His followers strew palm fronds, flowering tree branches and some of their own garments on the road to show their honor and love.  They shouted, "Hosanna.”   Hosanna means "Please save me" in Hebrew.

His followers were people just like you and me -- people who enjoyed comfort, help and sorrow. I welcome this Palm Sunday as a reminder to show privately and publicly the love and reverence that I have for the Savior like His followers of old did.  And surely, if I could sing about Libby’s green beans with such fervor in anticipation of a 4-H tour, the least I can do is celebrate the life and resurrection of the Savior with enthusiasm and appreciation.


Some have supposed that palm leaves* were used on “Palm Sunday” simply because they were plentiful, but like many things Biblical, there is deep symbolism.   Palms symbolized:

  • Great value and luxury. The palm branch was the emblem of Judea and was found on her coins, signifying that palms were one of the country’s and people’s greatest riches. 
  • A gift from God. The palm had many uses in the people’s lives, so much so in fact that when countries went to war they attacked the enemy’s palms to expedite their victory because:

a. the date palm supplied dates.

b. the coconut palm supplied coconut and coconut milk and the shells were made into bowls, utensils and tools.

c. the sugar palm sap was dried and ground into sugar and it’s leaves were cooked and eaten like a vegetable.

d. the trunk of the sago palm was ground into flour.

e. the heavy fiber was used to make ropes, the coarse fiber was used to make brooms, mats and baskets, the fine fiber was made into sewing thread.

f. the palm oils were made into butter and soap.

g. palm wood does not easily rot and was used for making boats.

h. the palm seeds were boiled and made into medicinal drinks or were dried and eaten like nuts or used as beads.

i. the yellowish-white palm flowers were made into perfume or worn as décor by the women.

In essence, through the symbolism of the palms, the people showed they were willing to offer their daily pursuits and time as well as their riches to honor Jesus. 

(*Information gathered from Dorothy D. Warner, “Palms for the Lord,” Liahona, Apr 1999, 10)


Deidra said...

My first thought was "Nat-Soo-Pah!"

But your message was so much more than that. It was beautiful.

We made paper palm leaves and Chris shared that same information about palm leaves with us. Our info came from the same article, but printed in The Friend in 1996. It seemed like a bit much for children, but the adults all learned something new. Interesting it was also reprinted in the Liahona.

I love Easter week so much and I'm so grateful for our Savior. Thanks for your testimony.

melanie said...

Absolutely beautiful post, Jane. I've read it twice and will likely read it again. I love when you share your testimony of His ability to hear and heal our pain. Thank you from the bottom of my heart with thick spots.