Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and introspection in Christendom. Ashes are ceremonially placed on the foreheads of Christians usually in the shape of a cross. As this action is being carried out, the priest states the words from the Book of Genesis 3:19 “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The ash material is made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
Palm trees have several characteristics that mirror the life of a Christian. For instance, in a storm, palms will bend instead of snapping and breaking. This reflects on difficulties endured in life. In faith, we can endure some very difficult storms that life throws at us.
In desert and arid environments, palms tree not only survive, but flourish.
The roots of the palm tree go deep into the hot sands and find moisture deep below. To be able and endure great depths, we are instructed to live the life Christ teaches as stated in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
In a dessert, a group of palm trees form an oasis. A place of shelter for a weary traveler. This emphasizes the importance of community in this challenging world. Also the importance of embracing those from outside our circles who need our help.
A mirage of an oasis is reflective of a very weary traveler who because of his conscious sinful nature only gets excited to discover that what he/she saw was an illusion, a trick performed by his physical tiredness and corrupted mentality.
The fruit of the palm tree, such as the coconut and the water inside, can be a great thirst-quencher if you know and have the means to get to it. In this Christian context, the teachings of Christ provide the know-how so to never thirst or reach this powerful hydrating substance in time of need.
The coconut also exemplifies the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fruit falls from the highest point on the tree, symbolizing Jesus’s descent from God the Father to Earth.
The main goals of Christianity include loving God, obeying His commandments, spreading word of the gospel, and sustaining a relationship with Jesus Christ so to avoid eternal damnation in hell.
On a final note, people do not use the palm tree for firewood because it refuses to burn like ordinary wood. In this sense, it serves as a reminder that the true child of God will never, not even for a moment, suffer the fires of eternal damnation.
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