Today’s basic need

Published 6:49 am Friday, April 27, 2018

Howard Coop

Encouraging Word

When I was just a little boy, my parents kept a variety of balms and ointments to use for various needs. Often when I cut my finger, my mother would rub a salve on the wound.

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One of those salves was homemade. A young tree, the only one of that variety I ever saw, grew a little way from the house. Everyone I knew mispronounced it’s name and called it the Bam ‘o Gilley tree. Later I learned that it was a balsam poplar known as a Balm of Gilead tree. 

One characteristic of the tree that I remember was it’s large buds. I remember going with my father one early spring day to pick a bucket of buds from that tree. When we took them to the house, my mother put them in a large pot, placed it on the stove, and boiled them until they were soft enough to mash into a paste. We called it Bam ‘o Gilley salve, and put it on the shelf to use often for a variety of things.

Later, I learned that it was the Balm of Gilead that is referenced in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. That salve, a healing resin, was high in salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. It was analgesic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

It was a good homemade ointment, but I discovered that there was a better one. When I was 4 or 5 years old, I hurt my finger often, and, crying loudly, I would run to my mother. She would take me into her arms, kiss my finger, pat me on the shoulder and say, “It’ll be alright.” And it was. In a few minutes, I forgot all about the hurt.

Somewhere, I came across a powerful reminder of a great truth: “Love and compassion contain a stronger balm than all the salves and ointments made by man.” Then, I remembered the words to a song by Hal David popular in 1965: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

This is today’s basic need.