Medicinal herbs have been part of the human experience for thousands of years, as evidenced by the multitude of folk names some of them have collected. When I was researching the Whinburg Township novels, I realized that people often summed up some spiritual property in certain herbs through the names they gave them, and the idea for this series was born. In each novel, the folk name reflects a healing property in the herb itself. But going a little further, God can begin a similar healing process in the spirit if we only allow Him the time and the room to do it.
“Herb of grace” is the folk name for rue, a bitter and astringent herb used in small quantities for ailments of the digestive system. And as we know, rue is also a verb meaning to be sorry for something one has done in the past. But there is a world of difference between ruing one’s mistake and coming to that place of repentance where God’s grace can begin its healing work...read more »
Red valerian, sometimes called “keys of heaven” or “Jupiter’s beard,” often grows in rocky places where other plants don’t flourish, such as in stone walls or against fences. But adverse conditions can produce a beautiful plant, brightening hard places with its sprays of red flowers. There are people like this, too. They grow in hard places where others wouldn’t flourish—staying where God has put them, even if they might not have chosen to grow there. But they stay because they’re needed, because their spirit transforms the hard place and makes it beautiful...read more »
In the ancient world, a tree known as Balm of Gilead, or the Mecca balsam, provided healing balsamic oils. In the new world, a species of poplar tree possesses similar properties and is also known as Balm of Gilead. Its fragrant, sticky buds are harvested and infused with oil to make a salve for the treatment of skin conditions. In plant lore, poplars are considered to be protective trees, which may be why the Amish and Englisch alike plant them as windbreaks in fields and along roads. There is also a belief among ancient peoples that in the whisper of the poplar tree’s leaves, you can hear the still, small voice of God.read more »