Extending the olive branch

Tall, majestic, and thick with silver-green leaves that shimmer in the blazing Mediterranean sun, the olive trees and their forebears have stood for thousands of years along the terraced slopes of Palestine. David walked beneath them, and so did Jesus and Paul. Olive trees are among the few trees that can survive—and even thrive—in the long, arid summers and the barren, stony soil outside Jerusalem. They require patient cultivation, though—grafting, plowing, fertilizing, and watering —over seventeen or eighteen years before they bear fruit plentifully. And they need one more thing if they're going to flourish. They need long periods of peace.

In wartime, there's no time for careful cultivation, for waiting almost twenty years for the precious, oil-laden fruit to appear. Maybe that's why, throughout the Biblical lands, the olive tree—and especially the olive branch—has long been an emblem of peace.

It was that and more for Noah, when the dove he sent forth from his ark after a catastrophic flood returned with an olive leaf in its mouth—a sure sign that the waters had receded and the renewal process had begun. Mary Baker Eddy recognized the significance of the olive leaf when she wrote to a Christian Science church in California: "My love can fly on wings of joy to you and leave a leaf of olive; it can whisper to you of the divine ever-presence, answering your prayers, crowning your endeavors, and building for you a house 'eternal in the heavens'" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany).

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Never too late to be forgiven
May 3, 1993

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