“No pain, no palm, no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory, no cross, no crown.”
— Martin Luther
I am thinking about part of the lyrics of an old African American gospel number “I’m so satisfied.” Most people in this world, sadly are not, not all the time. Palm Sunday has always been special to me for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it is a Sunday of jubilant celebration. Secondly, it reveals just how fickle human nature is.
Now, those items are on opposite polls of the spectrum so to speak, and I am no preacher nor religious zealot of any kind, but I do know that one day He, Jesus Christ, rode into Jerusalem not on a white stallion, but on a lowly donkey, and He was praised and lauded and all along His route folks shouted and threw palms and other tree branches, flowers, even cloaks and precious items of clothing and cloth into the street celebrating His triumphant entry, and within a very short time many of those same people shouted “Crucify Him.”
In this life, there are no guarantees, one might be the “bees knees” or the “cat’s pajamas” or “too cool” today, and, tomorrow, all that can change. You see, the change was not in Him, the change was in the crowd. They expected one thing, and He came to deliver another. They were looking for release from Roman oppression and He was seeking to offer the gift of salvation to the entire world, including His Roman oppressors. They couldn’t wrap their heads around it.
Let’s fast forward now to the twenty-first century, and if one is in public life, and you have thin skin, my advice is go recline in the sun for a while. You better toughen up and grow some alligator skin, because you are going to hear both praises and criticisms and much more of the latter. And, remember, each individual is unique and special, as each child God made is unique and special, and each situation which may come before you is unique and special as a public official and each person wants you to make a decision in their favor, no matter what the statutes nor the laws say, and sometimes, well, in fact, many times, you have to say that dreaded one syllable word “No.”
It isn’t pleasant to say it, and it’s even more unpleasant for people to hear it. Sometimes when we pray, we do so knowing God hears our prayers, but often times rather than praying “Lord, if it be Thy will.” We pray “Do this for me.” And sometimes we are even silly enough to say “If you will, Lord, I will do so and so.”
A newsflash for everyone including me: God is not in the bargaining business. You don’t have to be when ALL power is in your hands, and although I know I need Him, I don’t know about you, but I know I do. He doesn’t really NEED us. He wants us, but He doesn’t need us.
All those people screaming and yelling that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem wanted something out of Him that was tangible, and they wanted something “then and there.” There were very few who realized what He was going to offer was something EVERLASTING. The joy is in that gift, at least to me, on Palm Sunday. The absolute surety of that gift, to me, is certainly a reason to shout “Hosanna!!”
Now, before I close this little column, I want to mention someone who offered a gift to me many years ago now. It was a precious gift, the gift of friendship, the gift of love. I held and still hold these gifts in more esteem than anything. You can’t purchase these no matter where you shop. This individual was a very great lady, a mother, grandmother, a marvelous educator, a dedicated and willing worker in her church, Greater Poplar Springs Baptist of Jasper, Florida, and what a sense of humor. She had one. She had joy in living and in life, and she radiated that joy to others.
She knew about that gift the Lord was offering on Palm Sunday, that love that took Him to the cross on Good Friday and caused the Lord’s glorious resurrection on Easter. She knew all about it, and she displayed it.
I am writing of the late Mrs. (Abraham) Ruby Jackson, Jasper, Florida. When I went to Central as a young, young thing in 1981, she was on staff there. Had it not been for ladies like Mrs. Jackson, the late Mrs. Nell Bradshaw Rhoden, the late Mrs. Bettye Peters Brown, the late Mrs. Gwendolyn Powell Tuten, the late Mrs. Dorothy Carter Hill, Miss Sue Burkett, the late Mrs. Doris Harris, Mrs. Carole Peterson, the late Mr. Herbert Lumpkin, Mrs. Ruby Lumpkin, Mr. Bill Alford, Mrs. Darcy Broadnax, Mr. Charles Blalock, the late Mrs. Linnie Hale, Mrs. Margaret Lewis, Mrs. Mary Ann Grace, Mrs. Marsha Barker, the late Mrs. Phyllis Hunter, the late Mrs. Bonnie Kaigler, the late Mrs. Ethel Chandler, the late Mrs. Peggy McCall McCormick, Mrs. Linda Shortt. Mrs. Leontyne Lumpkin, Mrs. Ann Jenkins, Mrs. Katie Hunter, Mr. Fred D. Greene, the late Mr. Jim Coe, Mrs. Bertha Yulee Johnson, Mr. Ronald Hobbs and so many, many more, who took me under their wings and shared unselfishly with me and guided me on my way, I would have been a “lost ball in high weeds”, and that is the truth. They were wonderful, and they made my first year in education magical, truly.
In those days, we could teach children without having to constantly worry about the state holding us to assessments and try to discredit our profession. It was a different world, a wonderful world, and Mrs. Jackson was a huge part of that world. She began teaching when “separate but equal” was anything but that, and, by being a living witness and a positive role model; she helped bridge that cultural gap that was so wide between what some groups believed about others to be true and what was true. She did it as a lady, as a genuinely caring individual, and she lived it consistently till the end. I loved her, and I know many others in our county did too, and we shall miss her. She was a pillar of this community.
I can still see her in those staff meetings on hot afternoons at Central when someone was, from time to time, droning on, and Mrs. Jackson would shake her head and say “Ummm hum, ummm hum, Yes sir, Sho is.” Well, those memories of her “Sho are” more than special to me.
To the family and those who, I know, will mourn her passing, let me share this: Heaven is happier today, because Ruby Jackson is there. I am reminded of the lyrics to the old African American gospel standard and these were so applicable to Mrs. Jackson.
“May the works I’ve done speak for me,
May the works I have done, speak for me,
When I’m resting in my grave,
There’s nothing more to be said,
May the works (the works I’ve done)
Let them speak for me.”
From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.