In the creation of God (the act of God to bring things into existence ex nihilo, i.e., out of nothing), one of the greatest gifts He gave to mankind is a plant. This happened on the third day of God’s creation – Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So, the evening and the morning were the third day (Genesis 1:11-13).
Since that time immemorial, plants of various species have served as mankind’s livelihood as they have become our source of food and medicine. We can think of the Nim tree, the Coconut tree, and the Mango tree, among others. However, one of the plants which is so remarkable but not so much important as other plants moreover so distinctive because of the fact that every part of it has use is the Palm tree.
The palm fruit has few parts, as one can observe exteriorly, but when it comes to its uses when uprooted down, it has more parts than we observe exteriorly. The palm tree has the root through to the trunk, branches, and fruits, as we can observe. Its uses enfold the other parts.
When a palm tree is uprooted, the branches are peeled off of those leaves to make brooms for sweeping. The branch sticks are then used to start up the fire when dried or fence a garden. The fruits are removed from the fruit cells, and the whole cell is used to set fire. The outer seeds are cooked, and palm nut soup or oil (red oil) is made out of it. To get the inner seed, the outer cover is cracked. The cracked outer cover is often used to fill erosions, and blacksmiths use it to set fire to melt and change the state of a metal.
The kernel, which originally is the seed of the fruit, is cooked and, through other processes, produces palm kernel oil for consumption. Even with that, there is other debris from the process of the production of oil that is used to build and feed animals (pigs). The whole of the trunk, as it lies on the ground, is well pruned, and through a traditional mechanism, a wine (palm wine) is extracted from it.
The trunk could be left on the ground for a while to rot and later produces some kind of big worms popularly known as Akokuno (Palm weevil larvae). These worms are roasted and eaten as a delicacy in some parts of the world. The trunk continues to rot, producing nutrients to the soil. Now, the palm tree is decayed and not visible anymore. What is visible now is its essence which was invisible as palm trees: palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm wine, compost, building material, etc.).
This knowledge about the palm tree draws one’s attention to one concept Being useful wholly. This is quite interesting as in some parts of the world, and there is an adage that if you want to be completely useful, then be as useful as the palm tree. However, it is worth knowing that this concept has a geographical limitation since not every part of the world has a grasp of this concept. Also, this does not mean that it is only a palm tree and that all its parts are useful.
Nevertheless, the implication of this concept on the usefulness of the palm tree can be applicable to mankind to make ourselves available and accessible. The implication of this to us is that within each person we encounter and us are many usefulness which often-times we overlook with an outward appearance of ourselves and others (s/he has got no degree, s/he is poor, s/he is maimed or deformed among the many negatives we subject peoples’ exterior appearance too).
It is time for us to look within ourselves to find the things we are capable of doing that we have allowed our exterior subjectivity to misconfigure our usefulness. It is a new adventure we are being invited to explore, through which we may discover new dimensions of our usefulness, especially in the services of the church as Priests and Religious, Deacons, Eucharistic ministers, and other Lay Ministries. Most of us always have the desire to serve in these ministries but often judge ourselves exteriorly. Consider yourself a palm tree, and make yourself accessible so that you may become useful to the church and society.
By: Titus Nymenome Donyeh