We all have our free agency and God holds us accountable for the way we use it in thought and deed. "Kindness, compassion, and love are powerful instruments in strengthening us to carry heavy burdens imposed without any fault of our own and to do what we know to be right." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
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I know that I had promised to talk about sprouting this week.
This Friday and Saturday our family had their annual Easter campout.
My father and stepmother, siblings, our children and grandchildren go on an Easter campout on the southwest side of Utah Lake. We camp, fly kites, hike, ride ATVs, explore the area and have a Saturday picnic where we all roast hot dogs and share salads, chips, fruit and deserts.
It seems like it is always cold. This year I suggested that we might want to change it to the 4th of July, but they said that it would just be cold and snow then also. I rent a trailer and we had all 9 grandchildren along with 3 adults sleeping in it.
I have a truck with a covered bed that opens into the cab of the truck. I slept there so I would get a good night’s sleep. .
We have a treasure hunt for the kidsand then my youngest brother shoots candy out of a cannon for the children.
I had one granddaughter wear her ATV helmet so she could get right in the middle of the falling candy while others placed their bags over their heads. Some older adults had talked about not continuing the tradition, but during the campout many of the 3rd generation said that they wanted to make sure that the tradition did continue. This may not seem to especially seem to center on Jesus Christ. However, our faith believes that the family is the basic unit of the Church. We also believe that we can be families forever. This bond that we form during these traditions causes us to want to be more like Christ so that we can be together forever.
On Saturday evening my immediate family comes back to our home and we have an Easter egg hunt and a traditional Easter dinner. On Sunday we go to Sunday Services where we have wonderful choir and instrumental numbers and talks about the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. We partake of the Sacrament reminding us of the the Last Supper and the sacrament that Christ implemented at that time, the covenants that we have made with Christ that we will take his name upon us, always remember him and keep his commandments and have the promise that we will always have his Spirit to be with us. This is a wonderful culmination of the last 3 days.
While my wife and I were on our Military Relations Mission to provide religious service to members of our faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at Ft. Eustis in Southeastern Virginia for 1 1/2 years. We loved to see the dogwood trees in bloom during the Easter season. There is a wonderful tradition about the dogwood tree and its flower. This is not found in the scriptures or Christian doctrine, but there is a wonderful sentiment about the story that reminds us of Christ giving his life for us during this season. With Easter just past it is good to continue to think about the atoning sacrifice of our Savior at all times. This is why I am using this article for my weekly gardening article. Dogwoods make a wonderful ornamental tree in any garden if you have the climate and the growing conditions for them. The scientific name is Cornus florida. They grow 15 to 30 feet tall and 15-20 wide. They grow in Zone 5-8 and do best in part shade, moist acidic soil. The blossom is snow white with a tinge of red or brown at the ends. There are also red (pink) dogwoods.
The photo of the yellow dogwood blossom that I took are from a common dogwood and changed to the traditional white a few days later. The dogwood tree is not to be confused with the red twig, yellow twig dogwood and several other varieties of Cornus sericea/stolonifera that are hardy shrubs.
The tradition about the dogwood tree and its blossom goes as follows:
“The dogwood was the tree chosen to construct the Cross that would be used to take the body of Jesus. Even though His body may have been taken from this earth, His spirit remains and every spring we are blessed with a reminder of the events that unfolded on that fateful weekend. The blooms often appear in the shape of a Cross with holes in the tips of the pedals signifying the nails that were driven into the Cross. If you look closely at these holes you can notice a faint red stain representing the Blood. In the center you will find a green bloom symbolizing the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus.
After the Crucifixion, God proclaimed that dogwood trees would never grow large ever again. This is the reason the trunks of dogwoods are skinny and often branch off low on the trunk.”
A service that I provided on our mission was to pick up trash in the Yorktown National Battlefield as we rode our bikes along the paths. Not only was the final battle of the Revolutionary War fought there, but during the Civil War the Confederates built earthen forts and earthen trenches through the same battlefield and both sides fought for this piece of land. One Easter season, as we rode our bicycles, I saw the trees in bloom on one of the Confederate earthworks. Soon afterward I penned this poem.
Easter, calm and serene among the forests and fields.
The delightful blossoms and awakening of the foliage
belies the turmoil and torment once fomented here.
Not noticing the grace, if any then surrounded them,
they toiled exhaustingly moving the earth to build a barrier
against the inevitable, persistent foe surging toward them.
Projectiles soon buzzed about them, smoke obscured the view.
Brother against brother, with the outcome neither had wished for
on the same ground that had brought freedom 80 years before.
Rest in peace my fallen comrades, all you who are now gone.
We too shall follow as the seasons relentlessly flow.
Rest in the peace that was won by His resurrection Easters ago.
The 1st picture was taken at an earthen work built by the Confederate soldiers near Yorktown. The trees blooming are the Eastern redbud and the dogwood. The right photo, taken about 1/2 mile from the 1st, is the Surrender Field where the British surrendered to the American under George Washington and the French after the battle of Yorktown, essentially ending the Revolutionary War. The 2nd is the blossoms are from the red dogwood at the Surrender Field for the British. They are taken less than a mile apart in the Yorktown Battlefield National Park.
John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
For those interested in container gardening, there is an excellent article written by Larry Sagers, Utah State Extension Horticultural Specialist at Thanksgiving Point, found HERE!
Next week: Sprouting, for sure, at least I think so, unless I change my mind during the week like this week.
.“The entire Christian world will be celebrating Easter.
I believe that none of us can conceive the full import of what Christ did for us in Gethsemane, but I am grateful every day of my life for His atoning sacrifice in our behalf.
At the last moment, He could have turned back. But He did not. He passed beneath all things that He might save all things. In doing so, He gave us life beyond this mortal existence. He reclaimed us from the Fall of Adam.
To the depths of my very soul, I am grateful to Him. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. He secured our salvation.
As I close, may I share with you touching words written by Emily Harris which describe so well my feelings as Easter comes:
The linen which once held Him is empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean.
The door stands opened.
The stone is rolled away,
And I can almost hear the angels singing His praises.
Linen cannot hold Him.
Stone cannot hold Him.
The words echo through the empty limestone chamber,
“He is not here.”
The linen which once held Him is now empty.
It lies there,
Fresh and white and clean
And oh, hallelujah, it is empty.
Blessings to you, my brothers and sisters.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.