Monday, March 26, 2018

Contemplative Palm Sunday

Yesterday morning, I loaded up the car with palms and headed to the church as the sun rose (about 7:20 here).  I had volunteered to decorate the sanctuary for Palm Sunday.

I had a car full of palms, and my pastor had also cut palms--what a treat to live in Florida where we can decorate with abandon.

I spent a meditative half hour, thinking about where to put the palms and thinking about Palm Sundays past.  I remembered at our old church, after Hurricane Wilma destroyed the carpets, when the floors were concrete since it takes time after a hurricane to get the insurance money and then the building supply materials.  My spouse laid palms down the entire center aisle, which made it look thatched.  It was striking, but people were hesitant to walk on it.

I, too, put palms in the center aisle, but I left plenty of room for people to walk.  If they wanted to avoid the palms, there were pews without palms blocking the entry.  And of course, there are aisles up the side of the sanctuary.

I was delighted to see a 5 year old at the 11:00 service make a point to walk on each palm.  Did he make the connections between the day's readings and the palms?

I waved the palms as I walked them to places around the sanctuary and church grounds.  I thought about the fickleness of crowds who will sing "Hosanna" one day and "Crucify" a few days later.

I placed the palms along pathways.  I wondered if people would see the palms as pointing them towards the sanctuary, and once in the sanctuary, towards the altar.

In the end, the palms will go to various places around the grounds, left to decompose and return to the earth.  We don't let them dry and turn them into ashes for Ash Wednesday.  They don't burn evenly, and they leave a chunky ash behind--not really suitable for smudging.

I participated in the life of the church in all sorts of ways yesterday:  reading, anointing with oil, handchime practice, helping count the money, and clean up.  But my half hour of contemplation during the laying down of the palms (sounds better than decorating) was my favorite part of the day--totally unanticipated and restorative.

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