I have a faint memory of discovering Palm Sunday. Nothing very distinct, just scattered impressions of my earliest encounters with this ultra-cool holy day when the ushers – I believe – would hand out those palm leaves. As a kid, their spiritual significance meant much less to me than all the things my creative imagination envisioned doing with them once we returned home.
I particularly enjoyed wildly flailing about the slender stalks like an imaginary whip. Knowing me, I probably used them to take a few swipes at my younger sister (right now my memory is conveniently fuzzy). We’d twist and manipulate the leaves into various shapes or wrap them around the car’s rear view mirror. And, invariably, somebody would shape one into a stiff palm leaf cross.
I’m sure you’ve seen those.
Eventually, the leaves would dry out, become brittle, crack and disappear. I don’t really recall them being thrown away as much as they’d vanish.
Just as quickly as the palms were here, it seemed they were gone. Not too much unlike how the exuberant throngs abandoned Jesus not even a week after showering him with hosannas and placing palm fronds in his path.
Fortunately, the tale ends a week later on a victorious note; Christians believe Jesus gets the final word. But that path to redemption is lined with the strength of one person’s own convictions, not with leaves that dry out, become brittle and disappear.
That’s an awfully large lesson to pack into one little leaf.
© Copyright 2014, Jonathan Clarke All rights reserved
Artwork: “Palm Sunday” by Bill Hemmerling