Palm Reading..

It is almost Easter weekend. This, and last weekend all together, make up one of my favorite parts of the year.

When I was a little girl, I remember clearly the day I discovered Palm Sunday. I was sitting in a new Sunday school class, in a new church, that we didn’t end up joining. I was wearing my sister’s gauzy dress, and I felt very pretty, and very twirly, which meant almost the same thing.

To the right was the biggest flannel board that I had ever seen. The teachers hands, lined and swollen with veins, moved swiftly as she placed the flannel graph figures onto the board. I thought, she must be a professional, she must do this for a living! She built the scene skillfully, in the same way that librarians are adept at reading, book upside down and showing the page the whole time they do so, so that you can really soak in the illustrations.

I sat, transfixed.

Before I knew it, a still life depiction of a road, a donkey, and children, all surrounded by random shrubs and palm trees, stood in front of a stone city wall. It was all so eighties technicolor and full of life. It. Was. Beautiful.

She talked about how the children followed Jesus, and actually made a way for him. How they picked up palm branches and waved them, yelling, Hosanna, Hosanna, glory to the King of Kings! I am sure that my heart sped up, that my blood pressure rose, as I dared to imagine living in a place where you could just pick up a palm branch and wave it, dancing in the streets. How strange, how exotic! How unlike our familiar streets, where I could only grab a pine branch and a fistful of sticky sap. And I definitely was not allowed to dance in the street, or walk in front of donkeys.

Now, she said, after wrapping her tidy story up. Now, we have a surprise for you. And the white door opened, and in walked a man in slacks and a button down. His arms were filled to the brim with giant palm leaves.

You guys, it was like Christmas. But Easter. Almost.

We were each given branches, and I don’t mean to brag, but I am sure that the one that they gave me was sprinkled with magic. It was perfectly green, and strong, with just the right amount of bend and wave.

We lined up with the other classes outside, facing each other. A white runner was unfurled between our feet and the feet of the person standing opposite us. I don’t remember if there was a donkey or not, because in my head there was, but by now I was in shock, and things looked like a dream sequence in a movie.

A man dressed up as Jesus, began to walk toward us. Some teachers and kids threw their fronds at his feet, making a green striped carpet for him to walk across. Our teacher gave us permission to shout and dance. Our 20 or so voices became a joyful mob, ushering in a revolution with one sentence. Hosanna, Hosanna, glory to the King of Kings!

I don’t remember what happened after that. By the time that my feet touched the earth again, I was walking towards our friend’s apartment, across a wide expanse of lawn. Giggling, and giddy, I waved my branch, recounting in ridiculous detail what had happened at church. Okay, I get it, my mom was saying, I’m glad you had fun. But you never told me, I accused, you never told me about Palm Sunday! I did, she said, when you were younger. Not like this, I said, watching the soft spear shaped leaves, twist and rustle, above my feet.

It’s funny now, to think about that day. To try to put the pieces back in place, a faded puzzle, that became part of what makes me, well, Me. That day laid the foundation for part of what I believe. I know that it’s silly, to be fangirling Palm Sunday, but just as real an experience as the throngs of girls screaming for the Beatles. I felt it. I still feel it, actually.

I have thirty years of mistakes between now and then. Three decades of going back and forth to where I never should have been. Shannan Martin wrote that, “We tether our bodies to our sons and daughters, and all of us to the shaking ground. We’re still here. Just watch us get through this. All will not be lost as long as we seek shelter in low places.”

I read that and I felt like someone had written my life. Perhaps that is why I love this time of year. I need the Spring after Winter. I need the sun after snow. I need forgiveness for what I have done. Most of all, I need Hope.

There is so much fighting. So much he said/she said, left and right. More you are like me or you are against me, one of us, or one of Them. It hurts my heart to check Facebook, and has for over a year and a half. People who have everything else in common, are waging a civil emotional war, over the one or two things that they don’t. I am not stupid, I just don’t understand how these methods are worth it. How we are letting kindness become a casualty in a battle worth deserting.

We are all hurting. We are all “Into each life, a little rain must fall.” Thank you, Mr. Longfellow. We are. And we really are all in this together. I think maybe, we just lose sight of that. Or maybe we have forgotten, that our courage grows, when we allow others to walk alongside of us, even if their pace is slower.

I read this morning that it was the same crowd shouting Hosanna, that within a week used their lips to shout Murder. We humans sure know how to divide and conquer.

Things change, times change, that is not lost on me. We rise, we fall, we get back up. Palm fronds are waved one minute, innocent palms are nailed to a cross the next. Tombs are filled with the dead, then left open and empty.

Not every rock was meant to stay in its place. But no rock was meant to be slung from my hand towards your face.

I don’t have all the answers, and I never will. But this week, I’ll be celebrating instead of tearing down. However small my life is, however inconsequential my voice, I’d rather shout Hosanna than hatred, when given the choice.





The Last One

A few moments ago, my six year old daughter climbed up into my lap. She has, of course, done this approximately 14,684 times before. But this time, she had to brace her beautiful foot against the table leg to stay there.

I’ve known this day was coming, have anticipated it with the mommy cocktail of dread and awe. And here it is. The day she has to start supporting herself. The day that I can no longer bear her every weight, and height, and being.

Maybe it’s because I was already sitting at the table, second cup of coffee in front of me, watching steam weave invisible needlework into the air above it. I was thinking about what it is that is most important for me to get accomplished today. We all know that there are more tasks to be completed in a day, than there are hours to complete them. There is nothing new there. At least I own a washer and dryer, and am not forced to thresh my own wheat.

I live in the land of modern convenience, so what is actually important to me? Because time doesn’t seem to curtsy at my feet. Apparently, time has a deadline in need of keeping, regardless of what I want or think.

My great-grandmother once told me that she couldn’t believe she was in her eighties, because inside she was still sixteen. “Inside,” she said, “I’m still me.”

Countless others, have headed for work or to run errands, not knowing that their time on this side of the sun, would be over before they had a chance to come home. Kissing babies, and yelling reminders of chores at teenagers, dropping car keys, and trying to find their other shoe, no, not that shoe, this one, with the black strappy things, quick I love you’s at spouses, and slammed screen doors. Within hours or minutes, their time was through.

It all seems a bit fast, our time out of the mud. From dirt man came, from man came woman, and soon both of us are being tucked in under a blanket of grass and soil.

I hope to pass kindly, peaceful old woman, surrounded by family members and old  friends singing, and laughing. I hope to walk silently from this world to the next, to slip into something a little more comfortable, as I shed the bonds of this skin.

But things don’t always go according to plan. And so, just in case, let me say things I might not have time to tomorrow. Just in case todays sunset, is my last one.

My friends, you are awesome. You have taught me to love. You have given me acceptance, and shown me how to have courage. I have learned more from each of you, than I could ever say. Thank you for loving me, for teaching me to stay. I have loved our adventures, cherish the sound of your laugh. It has been my privilege to walk beside you on your journey. Thank you for holding me. Thank you for everything.

My husband, I love you. It has been my life’s goal to have loved you better, than anyone has before. Thank you for loving me, for making me a mom. Thank you for working and providing, and valuing having me at home. Thank you for taking me dancing, for holding my hand. Thank you for opening doors, and offering your arm. Thank you for not reading my blog, but giving me your blessing to write about you, and us, and whatever I felt that I needed to. Thank you for believing in me enough, that you stand behind and in front of, whatever truths I spill onto these digital pages. Your love, so often, feels like a stained glass cathedral, that I am free to sing, and kneel, and walk around in.

My children, my babies, my becoming adults. You are the greatest blessings I have ever received. You are the reason I wake, the reason I need sleep, and the reason that my heart continues to beat. You are kind, and lovely, you are brave and strong. You matter more than you know, and you always will. You are filled with courage, you can save the day. You know the right things to do, and the best things to say. You are here for a reason. You have a beautiful heart. The world needs the fingerprints that you will leave on this earth. Walk kindly, be humble, don’t stop at being nice. Fight for those who don’t have strength left, and the ones without a voice. Make people feel special, make people feel heard. Use your talent to encourage, to build up, and secure.

Figure out quickly who you are, but don’t be afraid to change as you go along. Know that you are loved. There is  much power in that. Know that you are wanted, just as you are. Speak the truth, surround it in love, be brave, shine brightly, and never give up.

Remember that you were born of love.

Treat others the way, that you want to be treated. Plant flowers, and fruit, grow a vegetable garden. Amaze yourself with what you can make with a little ingenuity and the strength of your own two hands. Listen. Read. Dance when you hear music. Love God, love people, love yourself, and take care of this planet. Do not be afraid to reach your hand into the darkness, in order to pull another into the light. All people matter, no one is a waste of time. Look into people’s eyes when they talk to you. Give yourself permission to tell your own story, all of it, even the parts that make you uncomfortable. Vulnerability is strength, and the truly strong are rare. Do things anyway, in spite of the fear. Know that you will get hurt when you really care. Care anyway.

Laugh and do things that I wouldn’t dare. Be yourself, and know that you are being enough. Live your life, babies. Enjoy each trip around the sun. Know that you were and are my greatest joy. While you might not have always fit in my lap, you fit just right, in my heart.

Whether I live 50 more years, or much, much, less, I have enjoyed my time here. I have been truly blessed.