It was a beautiful warm sunny day in March at Camp St. Christopher. I was attending as prayer support at Alpha Weekend Away when it was suggested that I hike to the crab dock on the circle path. I was told to enter the path at a certain point and just keep walking , looking at nature, the water, and to keep walking until I came to a different exit. No time or distance was given, just the instruction to take my Bible, rest when I got tired, but keep on walking until I exited at the end, to a different location. I felt like the traveler in “Pilgrim’s Progress”.
As I stopped along the marsh at a way station, I opened my Bible to read about Holy week. I never got beyond the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Several years ago, Gene and I visited Israel and made that walk, down a steep hill and up into Jerusalem. I could easily imagine Jesus and the crowd.
They were so excited that they had grabbed palm fronds off the trees and waved them wildly, singing and shouting as Jesus approached and then passed by. It was like a parade of happy people anticipating great fun and waiting for gifts or glass beads to be thrown into the crowd.
Maybe they were saddened or even contemptuous that Jesus threw nothing to those on the side, no candy, no purple and gold beads. But Jesus turned His face to Jerusalem.
I began my walk again, looking for the crab dock, hoping I was not lost, not wanting to turn back, just wondering how long this walk would take. I stumbled over some dead palm fronds in the path, and stopped. Dead palms lined the pathway, some in the pathway, they were everywhere. My mind recreated the scene in Jerusalem. Was that what it had looked like. What caused those people to drop their palms, fall away, turn back, and go home? Were some still following Jesus? Had they just been tired of waving those palms and left them in order to become part of the following crowd? Had they abandoned their palms to return to jobs and families and the dailiness of life, doing the right thing with no meaning or purpose in their lives?
I will not know the answer on this side of heaven. But, I began to think about my life and the lives of the people who come into my office. Most of us enter life, adulthood, marriage, parenting, following Jesus, with excitement, wonderful expectations. Talk to the young man or woman with the first job on the way to a career, the bride and groom before the wedding or the expectant parents, or the person who has joyously moved into newfound faith. It is like standing on the sidelines of life’s parade, waiting for the candy or the beads. What causes us to throw down our palms? Fatigue? Discouragement? Disappointment? Boredom? Fear? Disinterest? Sin? Fill in the blank with your own answer. Have we dropped out of the parade line or still hang in there with NO joy?
Lent is a time of introspection. Honesty with one’s self is requisite for confession and repentance.
On Palm Sunday we come face to face with the reality of our sin. We read the Passion of Christ and
shout “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” During the next week, I will think about where and in which areas of my life I have dropped my palm? I will ask myself if I am still walking, but have lost my joy? I will ask where I have turned back, looking for the quickest exit back to my old life. But I pray, I and you, will repent (turn around) and turn our faces to following Jesus with joy, in all areas of our lives.
If you need or desire confession, spiritual counsel, or just a friendly listener, the pastoral staff is available on Saturday before Easter. Make an appointment at the church office. Remember Easter is coming and hope and joy can return. It is the desire of our Father God that all should come to Him through Jesus. Pick up your palm, stop along the way and read the Word. This life and the life to come are amazing.
By the way, I did finish my St. Christopher’s walk, carrying my palm, exiting at a different place than I entered, changed. Then there was a sign at the end of the path – “Welcome Center this way”.
~ Melody B. Martini, Psy. D.