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.
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 four or five 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.
Howard Coop is PM and Chaplain
Lancaster Lodge # 104 F & A M, Lancaster, KY
- R. Selby, Sr. Chapter # 4 R A M, Danville, KY
Scottish Rite (KCCH), Valley of Louisville
AN ENCOURAGING WORD is a column sent weekly to ten newspapers and monthly to three other publications two of which are Masonic.
Howard Coop is the author of new book HOLY THOUGHTS FROM THE HOLY LAND that is available from Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, Cokesbury, Walmart, and many other outlets.