While I was preparing to write this article, I went to YouTube and watched the opening theme of a weekly TV show that aired on NBC from 1966 to 1968. When the show began in 1966, I was nine years old. I’m referring to Tarzan, a TV show that I watched with my younger brothers every Friday night.
It’s been more than 50 years since I saw the opening theme of Tarzan. The drum beat in the background, the deep, familiar voice of the announcer, the background music, and the scenes from the jungle brought back a flood of memories and emotions.
In the early summer of 1967, which was less than a year after I started watching Tarzan, I grabbed onto the end of an old rubber garden hose that my dad had discarded, and I climbed the weeping willow tree in the backyard of my parents’ home. When I got about 20 feet high, I climbed out onto a thick branch and tied the end of the hose to the branch.
Since my intention was to use the hose to swing around like Tarzan, I made sure it was securely fastened to the tree limb. The hose got a lot of use that summer by me, my brothers, our friends and cousins, and even my sisters and some of the girls in the neighborhood.
The hose lasted until September 3, 1967. I remember the date because on that day, the hose snapped while I was swinging on it. It happened on a Sunday morning. I had gotten dressed for church earlier in the day, and I was outside swinging around like I was Tarzan. When the hose broke, my body was flying sideways through the air. When I fell to the ground, I heard the sound of a stick breaking in half.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a stick that broke. It was my left femur (thigh) bone. I immediately called out to my younger brother, Carl, who was sitting on one of the branches in the tree, “Go get dad, I think I broke my leg.”
When I arrived at the hospital emergency room with my dad and mom, a doctor confirmed my suspicion. The X-ray showed a complete break, with the broken ends of the bone pushing against the side of my thigh muscle. I heard the doctor tell my parents that I was lucky that the bone didn’t puncture through the flesh.
I ended up in a body cast for three months. After the cast was removed, I had to go through extensive therapy to build up the flexibility and strength in my left leg. I had to use crutches for several weeks, and then a cane until my leg was strong enough to allow me to walk again on my own.
One of my favorite parts of the Tarzan show was when Tarzan would use his “jungle call” to warn the animals of danger, or to rally them to come to his aid. The jungle call was created for the original Tarzan movies of the 1930s, and was based on what Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of the Tarzan character, described as “the victory cry of the bull ape.”
Whenever Tarzan needed help in overcoming his enemies, all he needed to do was yell out his jungle call. When the animals heard his call, it was as though they would “wake up” and immediately begin rushing toward him to provide assistance. The elephants would rumble, the Lions would roar, the tigers would leap through the brush, the birds would take flight, and the crocodiles would rush toward the streams and waterways.
As a young, idealistic boy, I looked up to and admired the king of the jungle. Years later, I developed a love and admiration for the real King — the King of Heaven and Earth.
During the mid-1980s, my wife Georgette purchased a cassette tape that featured some of Sandi Patty’s songs. At that time, Sandi Patty was a well-known singer in the Christian community. Georgette told me that she wanted me to listen to the tape because she thought I would like some of the songs. I assumed that I wouldn’t like the music very much, so I never bothered listening to the tape.
On a Sunday morning a few months later, Georgette put the tape in a cassette player and turned the player up loud enough so everyone in the house could hear it. The title of song that she played was, “Was It a Morning Like This.”
The morning that she played the song for our family was on Easter. Every Easter since then, Georgette has played that same song in the morning, while everyone is getting ready for Church.
It didn’t take long for that song to become one of my favorite non-Catholic, Christian songs. In my opinion, it’s the best song that Sandi Patty ever recorded. It’s a glorious song that asks what happened the first time our Risen Lord walked on the earth. Here are the first four verses of the song:
Was it a morning like this?
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend to the Lord she thought was dead
Was it a morning like this?
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon
Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound, “He is risen!”
Over and over in a never-ending round
“He is risen, hallelujah, hallelujah!”
I would recommend that you go to YouTube and search for “Sandi Patty, Was It a Morning Like This,” and then listen to the song. There’s a strong likelihood that the song will become one of your favorite Easter songs.
Sandi Patty’s song really does make you think about what all the plants, animals, and other living organisms (other than humans) did when our Glorified Savior walked on the earth for the first time after He rose from the dead. Did the grass really sing? Did the flowers burst into full bloom? Did the animal kingdom wake up and bow to the real King of Heaven and Earth?
Our Lord didn’t have to yell out a jungle call like Tarzan to get the plants and animals to react. All He needed to do was whisper and His will would be done.
What can you say about a God-man who allows himself to be tortured and murdered by the humans He created, and then rises from the dead, so He can offer those same humans eternal salvation in His Heavenly Kingdom?
There is no way that you or I will ever have the ability to understand the full extent of His power. But we do know this: When we die and face our Risen Lord, He will reveal to us that He actually gave us some of the same powers that He has.
While we don’t have the power to make the grass sing, we do have the power to rise each morning from our slumber and, with great energy and enthusiasm, combined with complete faith and trust in God, light up the lives of the people we come into contact with.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “You may be the only Jesus a person ever sees.” The people you come into contact with not only have the ability to see you, but they also have the ability to feel and absorb your faith, energy, enthusiasm, love, and kindness.
You and I could do a much better job of rising from our slumber every morning and behaving more like our Risen Savior. Make this the year that you begin waking up the people around you with the faith, energy, enthusiasm, and love that you have for our Risen Savior.