Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. I love all the colors of the changing leaves and I wish It could last longer because of the variety it lends to the beautiful canvas of life. Among these colors is the predominant color yellow which has been a family favorite for years. When I was growing up, my Dad was easily spotted driving his yellow Ford pick-up truck and everyone knew that color fit his personality. I don’t believe it to be ironic that Thanksgiving is celebrated during the “yellow season”, or the time when families are coming home while giving thanks in unity for all the many blessings the Lord has given them. Today, my blog is about coming home.
Have you ever been driving and come across a house or a town and seen a yellow ribbon tied around a tree? What does this yellow ribbon symbol mean? Where did this tradition come from? There is a relatively new song made famous by Tony Orlando that tells the archaic legend of an illiterate convict coming home when he sings “Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree”. The song is told from the point of view of someone who has “done his time” but is uncertain if he will be welcomed home. He writes to his love, asking her to tie a yellow ribbon around the “ole oak tree” in front of the house (which the bus will pass by) if she wants him to return to her life; if he does not see such a ribbon, he will remain on the bus (taking that to mean he is unwelcome) and understand her reasons (“put the blame on me”). He asks the bus driver to check, fearful of not seeing anything. To his amazement, the entire bus cheers the response – there are 100 yellow ribbons around the tree, a sign he is very much welcome. Wikipedia
Have you ever been away from your family for very long? I have and I’ll never forget that first Thanksgiving/Christmas living away from my family. I was living in a third world country in Central America and didn’t realize how homesick I was until I called home for the holiday. Hearing the sweet voice of my mother and her genuine concern for me, caught me off-guard and I started sobbing uncontrollably like a baby even though I was a 21 years old and had earlier experience living away from home, even as far away as Europe. I’m so grateful I have a family and a place to call home, but today there are many people knowingly and unknowingly displaced. Many are fatherless, country less, Godless, and faithless and my heart aches for them with empathy because I feel their home-sickness.
I remember in the 1980’s when the Iran hostage ordeal took place and one of the wives of the captives tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in remembrance of her husband, thus creating a national wave of yellow ribbons being hung everywhere. Since that time, there have been many usages of the symbol but today, I invite all to tie a yellow ribbon around ourselves as a token of light and unity to the world and to become a part of the builders who are building a bridge of brotherhood. Those who pledge to love and forgive and especially overlook the differences of another whatever they are: religion, color of skin, educated, wealthy, poor, nationality, etc.
Life is about trials that test us and family is the root of safety. Some people’s trials include being displaced either physically or spiritually and they may feel isolated because of extenuating circumstances out of their control. For other people, their choices and their PRIDE can displace them. Is there anyone who doesn’t long to be needed, wanted and to be enveloped in another’s arms? Is there anyone who choses to be alone or displaced? We may have trials that separate us for a time, but ultimately, we want to come home. “These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us. A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another. How do you remain “steadfast and immovable”6 during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others.
When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.” Neil L. Anderson
When reading John 10:16, think of a yellow ribbon wrapped around the following quote from the Savior after he was crucified and appeared to the other sheep not of this fold who are called Nephites and Lamanites when he said, “Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father and I will be their rearward.” 3 Nephi 21: 27-29
Autumn’s colorful leaves cite a magical beauty and an array of variety that can only be best achieved with contrasting colors. We, too, are just like these leaves and our differences become a divergence of beauty. As we broaden our ability to love, accept and forgive, our brotherhood of all God’s children becomes painted on this canvas we call life with distinct yet co-existing colors or people. This great brotherhood can be built first in our homes and families and then spread like the same wave of yellow ribbons tied around trees everywhere on our American soil for the Iranian hostages. Our hearts will open and we will be prepared to assist our Lord in his work of bringing his “prisoners home”. We will focus our attention to that great reunion when long-lost loved ones will once again be enveloped in our arms and they will see the yellow ribbons tied as a symbol, “Welcome Home”.