As a child, and an observant Catholic, I went to many of Palm Sundays at my childhood church, Christ the Good Shepherd. I cannot say that I enjoyed it. I liked the new clothes that came along with Easter Sunday. I liked the chocolate and dyed eggs, but, what I didn't like was the adult conversation that surrounded the dinner table afterwards. The talks of politics and gossip about the wives of deacons and the fanning of attention my mother always wanted from our pastor. The woman was beautiful, she did not need to grasp for attention. Especially by a man of cloth, although she did enjoy being the most beautiful woman in the congregation and my father enjoyed being by her side. Her clergy friendships made her feel special, at least through my eyes and I have no doubt that she was the focus of all the church ladies jealousy. And there I was, this blob of silence that watched on, pretending to have a clue of the meaning of the words coming out of their mouths.
Red Lobster, that is where we would go every Sunday, with the parish priest, who I adored by the way, and any other congregants who bided to go along with the understanding of course that mother would sit the closest to the favored pastor. For the longest time, Sunday meant a long tedious day in uncomfortable clothes where we got to eat fancy food and my weekend faded away when we finally hit the doors of home at dusk. Palm Sunday was just another Sunday accessorized with palm leaves that were waved around and congregants showing off their skills in transforming the leaves into crude crosses that they would silently show off in hopes to gain admiration of their devout faith. As a child, I saw if as a facade of fake morality.
I don't anymore though. With a child of my own, the need to hide from the masses and lock myself away after church, writing my stories with "my brain on fire" as I tell my husband, I realize that I was missing an opportunity. Not to engage in the un-flattery small talk at the dinner table, because let's face it, I'm never going to do that, but to embrace the true meaning of the holiday. Palm Sunday, or any Sunday for that matter. The symbolic branches, placed in front of Jesus before he entered into Jerusalem. He knew what was to come and he did it, with his head up high. I fear being called to the principal's office while this angel of a man, made in that image picked up his cross made his walk and then carefully lied on it so we could all be saved.
We are now in Holy Week. That has to have some meaning. Between the papers that I have to grade, the conversations exchanged at work, the hugs I will give my son and the kisses I will give my husband is part of the halo of life that I have because of one man. Jesus Christ. Because of him, the bag boy at HEB will help me with my cart, my boss will smile at me and thank me for my hard work, my best friend will call and say, "girl do I gotta something to tell you."
Because one man, laid down his cross, the world will go on. Screw Covid! The battle will go on, but our will to fight back will too. Natural disasters will continue to occur, and we will continue to rebuild. And with each stick of a vaccine or each brick we lay in a new building, we are also building up our soul. Because one man walked the journey through the valley. Because one man laid down and took a last breath so we could have ours. Palm Sunday has meaning, and for me that is frustration, patience, courage, tears and laughter, and all of the elements that make up what Jesus Christ gave to us. Life.