It’s almost Palm Sunday and I keep looking at my palms, you know, the ones attached to my wrists. The ancient Greeks and Romans used the icon of palm fronds to signify triumph and victory in art and celebration. The Gospels tell us of the tribute of palms laid down for Jesus when he entered the city of Jerusalem. For me the triumph and victory happens when I stand with others palm to palm in prayer in community each Sunday. I have once more overcome my own ambivilance to the Sunday rites and rituals which have so hurt and helped me over my lifetime.
Palm Sunday happens every week when we put my hands together in praise and supplication. It happens when we clasp another in forgiveness or blessing. It is the triumph of hope over fear.
My favorite moment of the tradition of processing on Palm Sunday occurs when we return singing, into the church, our voices swelling in the enclosed space, crowded together for warmth and a little winded but exhilarated from the journey. The children excitedly whip the hairy fronds at each other and giggle, the adults full throated in their song. Then the quiet descends.
The understanding of the other palm comes to me – the palms of the hand, the cupped vessel that holds so much one day and so little the next. I recall the feel of my son’s small hand in mine, our lives palm to palm as we walk. How full my palm was then; a triumph of life. I remember well the feeling of my last coins, held in my sweaty palm; how close to empty it was. The neck of a guitar fills my pal, spilling music; my paintbrushes gripped and dripping filling a canvas with color; both a triumph of the spirit.
My kind of palmy days do not occur under a southern sky. My palmy days are in my studio, the southwest light warming the colors, my palms blotched with red and turquoise and yellow. My triumph is bringing and idea, question and feeling to light, color and form once again.
Some will ask a gypsy or psychic to read their palm and tell of to occur in things about the course of their life. I think it is clear that what you do with your palms is what shapes your future. Some claim to read a palm and find a long life line, a dark haired lover, a golden haired child to come. I claim you can fulfill and even change your destiny by what you hold in the palm of your hands; energy to be directed, caresses to be bestowed, healing effected, stories written, babies comforted, brokeness mended, tears dried
Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate the coming of the Kingdom of Love. We process to gather the sorrows and sufferings of our community to bring them to the gates of that Kingdom for mercy. We arrive palms open, beseeching entrance to the state where all is in right relationship. The place where right and left ( the righteous and the left behind ) together make a vessel to carry forward the task of making peace and a future that is a triumph of Love.
As we say in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, “Gimme’ Five!”