Monday, April 02, 2007


Palm Sunday is probably the only chance you’ll ever have of seeing people smile during an Orthodox service. Children of course have a great time throwing flowers petals in the air and waving palm leaves. Sometimes using a carefully aimed marigold to settle an old score. Most grown-ups manage to keep their usual solemn composure. A few, like me, have to struggle with an uninvited smile.

In Orthodoxy, the Church encompasses all of creation, both animate and inanimate, the physical world that we see and the spiritual world that we do not see. The palm leaves and the donkey remind us of our relationship with the creatures who share this planet with us. They are joined by the stones along the roadside, waiting to shout out aloud, should someone cause the children to to stop. And together with the angels in heaven and the prophets of the Old Testament we sing, “Hoshannah to the Son of David”, as Jerusalem welcomes her king.

Bright red bougainvillea petals and the scent of freshly cut palm leaves mix with incense and music as the procession goes around the church. And for only a moment before it is reined in, a little smile manages to show itself.

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