Lessons and Experiences to Remember

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I was five years old when I first visited a zoo. My parents and my Daddy’s sister Dot and her husband Preston took their children Jim and Jack and my brother, Steve, and me to the Memphis Zoo. Here is a picture of my parents during that trip.

In this picture, my cousin Jim and I are sitting in a whale in bad need of a paint job.

Here Daddy manages to hold up both Jim and Steve who were only two months apart. Jim is looking away, and I am looking down. It looks like Steve is the only one actually looking at the burro.

This photo records my favorite experience at the zoo that day.

One of the adults bought food for me to feed to a giraffe. As I recall, it was purchased from a vending machine. It looked a lot like a Wasa® cracker (our family used to eat a lot of those yummy, healthy crackers.) The giraffes stood several feet below the place where people stood to watch them. The giraffes could easily bend down to meet us face to face at eye level. The really cool thing for me was that I actually touched the giraffe’s tongue. I thought that was so super special. My poor grandchildren may all be tired of me telling them about the time I touched a giraffe’s tongue!

Ray and I enjoyed two cold trips to the Nashville Zoo last week. We went with one set of grandchildren and their mama on Monday evening and were back again with another set and their mama on Friday evening.

The reason we are making cold trips to the Nashville Zoo in December is that the zoo has scheduled the Chinese Zoolumination from November 18 to February 4. It is advertised as the largest Chinese lantern display in the United States. It is magnificent. My photos can’t depict the magnitude or the specialness of these works of art.

Still, I’d like to show you a photo of what the red sign in the lower right corner told us was a Penglai Wonderland. To gain perspective, imagine that a person is standing in front of the wave of water on the left. The top peak is about the height of a man about six feet tall.

These photos show some details. Here a bird flies in front of a large wave.

This is a view of the scene from the side.

All around the zoo, red signs like the one above explain the legends that the many Chinese lantern scenes illustrate. The sign for this legend tells about a “fairy tree” and says that the fruit of the fairy tree could keep people living forever.

One of our daughters realized that the Chinese legend of a tree that could make people live forever probably had its origin in the tree of life, mentioned in Genesis 3:22. When people began to spread out from the Tower of Babel, those who eventually migrated to China may have taken that truth with them. However, in time that kernel of truth could have become corrupted and made part of an elaborate legend with mythical creatures like the one sitting above a waterfall in the scene above.

In the afternoon before we went to the zoo on Monday, Ray and I, along with our older daughter and her children, visited my Aunt Dot and Uncle Preston at their home in Ashland City, Tennessee. We laughed and had a wonderful time.

We told my aunt and uncle about our plans to go to the zoo that night. She later emailed to ask if I remembered our long ago zoo trip. Do I ever?! Who can forget touching a giraffe tongue?!

Yes, I remember the zoo, and I am grateful for such sweet parents and relatives. Remembering is important. If the legend of the “fairy tree” did originate with the truth of the tree of life, it is very sad that mamas and daddies let the story become corrupted because they didn’t pass the truth on to their children and their children’s children. Paul told Timothy:

The things which you have heard from me
in the presence of many witnesses,
entrust these to faithful men
who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:2



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