On my Flickr page last Sunday I posted a photo of a crown of thorns on a bed of palm fronds. It was one of the photos I took after the church service during which children had waved palms while parading into the sanctuary. Later our youth minister used the crown to explain how the king who was welcomed that day didn’t end up wearing a shiny gold crown as the people hoped, but a crown of thorns instead.
During the storytelling I heard again of how the Lord came into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and suddenly recalled that on the way to Bethlehem, cradled within the womb of his mother, he had also travelled on a donkey. Prior to both his birth and his death he arrived on a donkey. I’d never thought of that before.
Many things don’t happen as we hope or expect, but God has a way of giving each experience a purpose anyway. We may not always realize it at the time.
Inexplicably linked with this account is the ‘coincidence’ that there is a palm tree in my bathroom.
Each summer for at least a decade I’ve purchased an inexpensive Majesty Palm for our back deck. I don’t deliberately plan for it to die, but neither do I try to keep it alive through the winter. It sits as a backdrop to our water garden and various pots of annuals, and when the chill of frosty autumn nights signals an end to their season, the palm follows them into the compost pile. That’s how it’s been every year… until last year. Last year when I went to buy a palm, there was none to be found anywhere, and I reluctantly substituted a Yucca plant. It was too small, more expensive, very stiff and not at all the gracious backdrop I preferred. I muttered frequently throughout the summer while I deadheaded the flowers in nearby pots.
So last Saturday I happened to be in a garden shop, looking for something totally unrelated, and came across a dozen Majesty palms, much larger than I’ve had before, and for much less money than I normally pay. Naturally… naturally, I stopped in front of them, and couldn’t budge a step until my hubby agreed that since we happened to have the truck with us, it was the perfect opportunity to buy one. It was meant to be!
It didn’t occur to me that this is still March and the weather won’t be predictably warm enough to put it on the deck for two months. Even the garage is too cold. So for a few days it is residing in the bathroom, sitting in a bucket getting watered and adjusting to the different humidity here. Then it will find its way into the living room and fill a corner there until late May. (I’ve never tried to grow one of these as a houseplant — please pray I can keep it alive that long!)
It wasn’t until I photographed the strange new bathroom accoutrement and subsequently downloaded all the weekend’s photos that I suddenly realized the palms waved by our children during the Palm Sunday worship service were the exact same kind as I’ve been growing every summer. How could I not have known that before? And how was it that I found my palm the day before Palm Sunday? A coincidence? I doubt it.
I haven’t figured out what it is I’m supposed to be learning from this experience, but I can tell you I’ve been giving palm branches and donkeys a lot of thought this week, and I have a whole new perspective of that parade into Jerusalem.
Have there been any revelations for you lately… any new discoveries in your writing or Holy Week meditations?
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
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