Welcome to Feels and Flowers, a podcast where your host gets really enthusiastic about plants, their history, and their benefits and spends way too much talking about olives. Is she obsessed? Probably, but you will too when you learn about the wonderful properties of olive oil.
This week’s podcast is based on Genesis 8. Yes, we are still hanging out with Noah. It seems like we’ve been hanging out with him for months and months, but it’s only been a few weeks. During quarantine, time seems to warp and months last decades. It’s not just you–its a proven fact, didn’t you notice how long March felt?
Bear with your host as she goes back in time to share with you about an unsavory time in her life, and you will learn about how you can learn how to get through this and any other crisis with grace. All it takes is a new perspective, a sense of purpose, and an unshakeable trust in an unseen hand that leads you. Easy peasy, right? (I’ll explain. I promise!)
A shoutout this week to my sister, Liz (yes, the very same one from last week) who helped edit this week’s episode. She is the best and as you guys seemed to really enjoy that episode, I’ll bribe her into returning to the podcast soon.
Find semi-accurate show transcripts, notes from the episode and extras… all at https://feelsandflowers.com/
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Dear God. Please. Not again. Don’t wipe us out again. Don’t subject us to another cataclysm so soon after having come through this one.
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Hi, this is Paula. Welcome to Feels and Flowers
It’s the latter end of the third week of quarantine. I’ve not left the house except briefly for groceries, and my usually tan complexion is looking as pasty as it’s possible for a Mexican to look.
Outside spring has come in its full splendor. The rainy days have come and gone, leaving behind a land bursting with beauty: flowers and blossoms, tender new leaves, baby ducklings, cooing doves, and tiny chirping birds.
And here I am sitting in my futon, trying to type this episode out, but it’s the fifth time, perhaps the sixth time I’ve tried to make my brain come up with something and….nothing.
Worry and anxiety do that to you.
Let’s start with this.
I will never again read the story of Noah’s ark without marveling at his spending a year in confinement. Because…. Even I, an introvert extraordinaire, am finding it hard to be cooped up in my house. All my introverted batteries are fully charged and now I don’t know what to do with myself.
But anyway, I can’t complain. My family and I are healthy and safe. I still have my jobs, and all my hours are intact. In fact I am busier than ever… and I am grateful for that. #Blessed
One of the upsides of quarantining is that last week I was able to involve my sister on the podcast. As I was suffering from writer’s block last week, I changed the format and invited my first guest. Shoutout to my sister Liz, my partner in crime, my favorite quarantine buddy. Thanks for putting up with me.
Now this week we are jumping back into the Bible. Two episodes ago, Noah was stuck in a floating zoo. Let’s finish the story of the great flood…. Genesis 8-11: a new covenant for a new world. But before we go all in, let’s do the flower of the week, which in this case is not so much as a flower as it is a tree. The Olive Tree!
— [FLOWER MUSIC] —
There is a story from ancient greek mythology where Poseidon (Greek god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses) and Athena (the Greek goddess of wisdom, craft, and war) wanted to claim a newly established city in the Greek city state of Attica. It was decided that a contest between the two would be held: Whomever could bestow the more useful gift to the people of Attica would be declared the patron god or goddess of the city and the city would be named after them. Poseidon was the first to present his gift: He struck a rock with a powerful blow of his trident, and a spring of salt water burst through. Athena came next, and she struck a hole on the ground with her spear, knelt down, and planted an olive branch in the hole, which quickly grew into the first olive tree. Because her gift was deemed the most useful, Athena was crowned patron goddess and protector of the city and its people named it Athens in her honor. Throughout Attica, it is said, olive trees were considered the property of the State, even if they were on private land, and uprooting an olive tree was an offence punishable by banishment and confiscation of goods.
That’s a nice story and serves to underscore the central role of the olive tree in the mediterranean world. The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa. It is short and squat. But oh, what an important tree it is!
Olives have been grown in the Mediterranean for millennia–thousands of years before Christ. Along with wheat and grapes, Olives were a staple in the mediterranean diet and intrinsic to the region’s culture. One of the chief products derived from the olive tree is the olive oil which is extracted from the olive fruit and which has been used not only for food, but for fuel in oil lamps, medicine, for soap-making, skin care, and for religious purposes.
In the Olympic Games in Greece, the victors were awarded crowns of olive branches and leaves. Oil figured in the anointing of athletes, rulers, and religious authorities in both Rome and Greece.
Priests in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome used olive oil in their sacrifices and offering to the gods.
Olive oil — along with bread, wine and water — is one of the four most important symbols in Christianity. Olive branches, leaves, and wood, gained sacred connotations in both Testaments of the Bible, like the dove’s return to Noah’s Ark with an olive leaf in its beak. Jesus was praying in the Garden of Olives, or Gethsemani, when he was taken prisoner (In Hebrew, “gethsemani” means “olive press.”) Early Christians decorated their tombs with olive branches as a sign of the victory of life over death.
But what about the plant itself? It is a very interesting tree, actually.
Olive trees bloom in the late spring and produce clusters of small, white flowers. They can grow in the wild, given the right conditions, but cultivated olive trees do much better and yield more fruit. Olives tend to either: produce in alternate years, or bear heavy crops and light ones alternately.
An interesting fact: An olive tree that grows out of a seed, also known as an seedling, does not tend to do very well, as seedlings are particularly vulnerable to attack by pests and diseases. Since the ancient times, however, growers have figured out that the best olive trees are grown from cuttings of older trees which can be rooted to produce a new tree, or the cutting can be grafted to an existing tree trunk. It takes about eight years for an olive tree to produce its first crop, but it takes a total of 15 to 20 years before they produce a proper commercially-worthwhile crop. Once they do, however, they will continue to bear olives until they are about 80 years old, but can potentially live for hundreds of years after that.
There are hundreds of varieties of olives, and many countries grow them, however Italy and Spain lead world production of olives. In fact, Europe produces three-fourths of the world’s olives. Nice!
Olive oil is an excellent carrier oil. I’ll talk more about its special properties at the end of the show, but for now let’s return to our story. Last episode Noah was stuck in a floating zoo. Today we finish the story of the great flood.
— [FLOWER MUSIC FADES OUT] —
Then God turned his attention to Noah and all the wild animals and farm animals with him on the ship. God caused the wind to blow and the floodwaters began to go down. The underground springs were shut off, the windows of Heaven closed and the rain quit. Inch by inch the water lowered. After 150 days the worst was over. The water level continued to drop. The ark landed on the Ararat mountain range. (Genesis 8)
Months passed and Noah, his family, and the animals patiently waited inside the Ark. Nine months after the flood began, the mountain tops became visible. Noah released a raven, then later a dove to see if there was land. The dove at first just came back, as it hadn’t found a place to rest. But a week later it brought back a fresh plucked leaf from an Olive tree.
The small family in the ark rejoiced. Surely there was light at the end of the tunnel. Soon, soon they would be let out.
On the day that Noah and his family left the ark, almost a year after they had gone in, Noah took clean animals from his precious livestock and made sacrifices to God in thanksgiving for sparing their lives. Moments later the wind blew and a light rain started falling.
Their hearts must have trembled in fear for a moment. (Remember, my dear, until the great flood, Noah and the fam had never seen rain, so the return of rain must have made them fearful, even just a little.)
Dear God. Please. Not again. Don’t wipe us out again. Don’t subject us to another cataclysm so soon after having come through this one.
But instead of destruction, God gave them comfort. Peace. His personal assurance that they could rest easy next time and any other time it rained. As the rain fell, sunlight glinted through the droplets of rain and God painted the sky with bright colors. High above them, soaring against a backdrop of dazzling white rain clouds, was a rainbow–the sign of God’s promise that he would never wipe away the human race through flood. God then blessed the humans and the animals, and told them to reproduce and populate the land…
That, basically wraps up the story of the flood. And just like that, if you find yourself in a situation where you seem stuck you can take comfort just like Noah did when he saw the olive leaf the dove brought, assuring him that the time inside the ark would soon pass. There was a light at the end of the tunnel!
Maybe you are well-acquainted with that feeling and you know how it feels like when you live feeling like you’re trapped or that you’re living in a nightmare. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s gone sour and you just can’t see your way out of it, maybe it’s an abject feeling of loneliness, maybe you are in pain or sick. Afraid.
We have always clung to the assurance that no matter what, everything has an end. “This too shall pass” We cling on to the hope that our ark will rest atop a mountain, and the floodwaters will recede and we will be able to step out and have a brand new start.
That, I believe, is the feel-good lesson they always tell us to take away from Genesis 8. That when you look at a dove with an olive leaf in its beak you should see–the end of your trial is near.
But I will be honest with you.
I am not seeing that right now. I don’t need to know that whatever I am living right now, my suffering, my anxiety, my time of confinement, is going to come to an end. It WILL end, one way or another. Of that I am certain.
You and I will once more walk into the sunshine… But only to step into a world that has been upturned. It will probably be ravaged by the aftermath of the crisis.
In this respect, the end of your current problem is only the beginning of another problem. And we need to face head on that problem, and then once that one is done, the next one, and the next, and it goes on and on and on. Life becomes a series of crises where you must adapt, mitigate, and overcome while hoping that the current problem goes away soon.
That is no way to live. That is also why the assurance that all bad things will come to an end is simply not enough. Yes, all things bad come to an end–but surely all things good come to an end as well? Therefore, the promise of this shall pass, OR that the end of your current trials will come, can only gets us so far. “This shall pass” is not the gospel. And that is not the message that I want you to get out from this story.
Bear with me a little. I’ll take you back in time with me to a time in my life I am not too fond of.
Imagine that you are ten years old.
Imagine that you and your family suddenly find themselves close to penury. You’re living in a new country, you’re barely managing to adapt to its customs and its language, and suddenly your parents can’t afford the home you are living in. And in this new country where you have no family or friends to take you in, you suddenly realize that you have no place to go. Imagine, then, that someone of your acquaintance, let’s say a person from church, gives you a place to stay in their home.
How wonderful, right?
Ordinarily, yeah. That act of kindness would be enough to swell your heart with gratefulness.
However, charity can be a bitter pill, especially for those of us who have always been used to being on the giving end of charity. The Paula that’s talking to you right now knows best, and is fully aware that receiving charity or kindness from others can be humbling, but not humiliating. Ten year-old Paula didn’t see it that way at all.
After having lived a life of considerable privilege I became someone who, but for the grace of God, was virtually homeless and who just had to be so grateful that she had a place to live–in this case–in the hot, stuffy, converted garage in someone’s house.
I was anything but grateful. It was beyond humiliating to me–ME who had always had a home of her own, whose mom had always dressed her up in expensive and cute dresses, and who had gone to private schools. Now I was a charity case. I guess I wouldn’t have hated it so much except that receiving charity from someone who never fails to remind you that they are doing you a favor and continually rubs it in your face … is … the worst.
There was one day where life in that house became so wretched that I just lost it. I cried and cried, and mom held me and promised me that whatever we were going through would surely end, and we wouldn’t be in this circumstance for ever. That day I learned the phrase, or at least the sentiment behind this too shall pass.
This too shall pass.
When my mom told me that this rough time in our lives would not last forever, I didn’t take solace in the new perspective she gave me. For a child the concept of time is still new. The past fades quickly, the present can seem to drag on and on, and the future is nonexistent. What I held on to–what gave me comfort–was knowing that whatever my mom was saying WOULD COME TO PASS NO MATTER WHAT. Mom and dad were in control and they had said it would be so, and I–without a doubt–believed it. All I had to do was bear the present, and hold on to their hand and believe that the all-powerful adults would make everything alright.
The same goes with us. We’re nearsighted, so much so that we are basically blind. We can’t see what’s ahead, and we stumble and fall and trip, and we skin our knees. We take a wobbly step in one direction–hand outstretched, grasping for something–anything–only to feel besieged by more problems. Being a human is difficult. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a lifeline onto which you can cling to and help guide you? Wouldn’t it be nice if it were a hand–strong, yet gentle, that guided you on?
Yeah. But wouldn’t it be better yet, to have eyes to see with?
I’m not saying anything like clairvoyance or any of that nonsense. I’m saying having eyes to see past the physical and into the spiritual realm where you can see the connecting thread that makes sense of what you’ve gone through, where you are, and where you’re going.
When I read the story of Noah, my attention was caught by the mention of a freshly-plucked olive leaf. In all my years I’d always believed that the dove had brought back a branch. No, it brought just a leaf.
As I continued following the symbolism here and in the rest of the Bible, I saw that the entire Old Testament, the symbolism for God’s chosen people, his remnant was an olive branch, or a green shoot. This was Israel. The servant of God, who is the prophetic term for the coming messiah, was also called “the branch”.
This symbolism for the covenant doesn’t end with the Old Testament, though. Paul brings it up again in Romans 11. This time, the branch is now a tree and it is made up of branches that symbolize both the Jews (that is, the descendants of Abraham and all the patriarchs), as well as the gentiles. This tree has had branches hacked out of it and, oddly enough, branches form a wild olive grafted into it. The old covenant has only broadened to include more people: including you and me.
The way i see it, then, is that when the dove brought in a leaf, it was not only to tell Noah: hey, there’s land and this will soon be over. It was a reminder: Hey, what you’re going through? It has a purpose. It has meaning. Don’t lose sight of the big picture: you are my chosen one, and I have established a covenant with you. Yes, you may be just a little leaf, but this leaf is only one part of a larger branch. And this branch will be rooted and turn into a mighty tree. You still have a ways to go, other challenges await you, and 300 more years of life to live, guiding your offspring to do better. So don’t lose sight of the big picture once you exit this ark.
In the same way, God tries to remind us that we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger narrative–either. Don’t lose sight of it now when you are in crisis and don’t lose sight of it when the crisis passes.
When you see what you are going through in relation to the bigger picture, you can say like the apostle Paul in Romans 8:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! [that is why] I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:15-18)
Similarly, the Apostle James tells us:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
This message from men who were jailed, beaten, and persecuted. But they were men who knew that they were in for the long game, they knew that the path they were on was not easy, yet they saw that it had a greater purpose. Because of it they were faithful to the end and able to inspire millions of other believers who came after them.
When you see that your life is not simply a day-to-day survival but is rather full of meaning and purpose, and more importantly, when you see you don’t have to do it all alone, you can face this crisis and all the ones that come after it without fear. You can even be strategic about it. It won’t be easy, but you’ll know for sure, absolutely, 100% sure that the hand that guides you never grows weary to save and that God, who knows the end from the beginning, is in control.
If you’ve reached this far, thank you for listening. This episode has gotten a little too long, but I did promsie to tell you about using Olive Oil.
Olive oil is rich in skin-nourishing fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E. It is affordable but also one of the best moisturizing oils you can use. You can use it to condition your skin. It is deeply penetrating that helps keep skin soft and conditioned. It has a compound (squalene) that provides a barrier against water loss. It has antioxidant properties to help maintain the integrity of skin cells and fight off the effects of free radicals that cause premature skin aging. You can use it in your hair before shampooing or as an overnight hair mask to treat dry and damaged hair. Finally, it is an excellent makeup remover, helping to lift all traces of grime and dirt and leave your skin feeling so soft and nourished.
Word of caution, be careful not to let it get inside your eyes, it can sting. Also, Oilve oil has been known to cause allergic reactions when applied topically to sensitive skin or dry scalp. It can make dandruff worse. And most importantly, if you have oily skin–don’t use it. It can be too rich.
OK that’s all for now!
If you’d like a shoutout or you just want to say hi, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also follow me on IG: @feelsandflowerspodcast and Twitter @feelsandflowers. If you enjoy Feels and Flowers please be sure to leave a rating on and subscribe on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast platform you use. That would really help a lot.
Also visit Feelsandflowers.com for blends, recipes, and instructions for using all the essential oils I’ve covered so far. You can also find show transcripts and other extras on the episode posts, photos, and some of the reaserch material I just could not fit into this weeks episode, so do go in there and check out the website.
Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.
Romans 9-11: Faith is the basis for being put in a right relationship with God and the application of this fundamental principle to the nation of Israel
Although the figurative use of the olive in the New Testament appears only here, (a hapax legomenon) it is quite common int eh Old Testament… for example Jer 11:16, Hosea 14:6, Psalmso 80:8, and Isaiah 5:17.
In Romans 11:!7 Paul says branches form the wild olive tree are grafted onto the cultivated olive. This statement by Paul has triggered off criticism including the conclusion that Paul could at least only have been a nice horticulturalist. Sound botanical principles involve the grafting of a cultivated shoot not a wild step, and not the other way around. However, Paul purposely included this faulty use of horticultural practice in order to foreground the Grace of God. Paul would have been aware of describing a procedure that could not occur in reality in order to express the idea that the inclusion of gentiles in the Abrahmic family was a miracle of divine mercy.
In his allegorical picture speech, Paul did not think that a dying or senile tree should benefit from the strength of the branches that had been grafted in, but the other way around. It was to show that the strength that came from the roots was also given to the grafted ones.
Paul confirms that the whole tree is not chopped down, but that only some of the branches are cut off. The fact that the subject, God is implied in both actions [of removing branches and grafting wild branches into the tree] creates different expectations in the minds of readers. The reader could expect a verb with the connotation of ‘removing with great care’. The verb used however, rather refers to a violent action, “Braking off” which also goes against sound horticultural practice, because branches are removed with great care. Additional sound horticultural practice involves the grafting of shoots from a cultivated tree onto a wild stem. To graft wild shoots onto a cultivated tree is counterproductive as the wild olive produces an inferior yield. Sill, Paul uses this seemingly unnatural process to draw focus and attention to the fact that God wants to save and not to destroy.
However, God’s same power which grafts a wild olive into a cultivated olive tree is important for us to understand the tif God has the ability to graft a branch from a wild olive tree onto a cultivated tree, which is an unnatural process, then He is equally able to graft branches which have been cut off the cultivated olive onto the cultivated olive, a natural processionals. Therefore, the message is that the restoration of Israel is an easier process than the call of the Gentiles.
Havemann, J C T, and J C T Haveman. “Cultivated Olive — Wild Olive: the Olive Tree Metaphor in Romans 11:16-24.” Neotestamentica, vol. 31, no. 1, 1997, pp. 87–106. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43049007. Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.
One of the ways to propagate shrubs, bushes, and trees is via cuttings. You get a branch or a cutting from an existing tree and help it to take root so a new tree comes from it. This is done because growing a tree from a seedling takes much more time, and if you are growing these trees commercially, this can turn out to be more expensive of a venture.
For evergreen trees, like the olive, you need to cut a piece off the plant that is at least 6″ long, but no longer than 12 inches. Make sure that there is at least three leaves on the cutting.