Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Palms for Stones


Sunday morning we wielded our palms, waving them somewhat awkwardly while a tangle of kids did their best to show us how to rejoice and be human. The Martin pew was tighter than usual, the regular five of us along with our weekend sister, Avery, Robert (who used his palm primarily to torment a friend in front of us) and his twin boys.

I had woken that morning to a reminder of something I wrote last year on Palm Sunday, "I'm 40 years old and I only ever thought of Palm Sunday as mobs of people waving Jesus into the city. 'Hosanna! Save us!' Moments later, those same people screamed for his death. I've always thought of myself only as the one waving the palm."

It bugged me all morning as I poured bowls of cereal, peeled oranges, and dosed meds, kissing my youngest on the top of his silky head. It niggled at me through the hymns, and into the sermon. Why had I written "moments later" when it was actually days? Why had no one questioned me on this flub a year ago, or even now?

I must have had my reasons, and Instagram posts aren't made for nuance. Anyway, the truth still stands - the ones who praised him evolved into the ones who wanted him dead, worship turned to bloodlust.

It didn't take long at all.

~

A few nights earlier Cory and I stole away for two rare hours with another adoptive couple. Over burrito bowls and then coffee, we took turns commiserating about all we still don't know and the ways we aren't understood. She shared about the long days spent surviving, the evenings where her heart aches from the taxing work of physically holding anger and grief, sitting with it and in it because to set up camp there means all will not be lost. 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.

She talked about the dark nights of self-doubt, of shouting when whispering would have been better, of apologizing and believing in do-overs even when we feel most foolish.

I nodded along, remembering those days, those evenings, those nights like I remember the scent of home. Remarkably, their intensity and frequency have faded. It's good for me to notice the slow growth that pushed up through the soil in spite of us.

"It will get better," I promised.

~

It was Sunday lunch, then, that marked the beginning of the end. There were complaints about the grilled cheese sandwiches, complaints about the milk, complaints about the ranch dressing we dunked tiny carrots into - too tangy, not enough, too much.

Cory was working and though I wanted to relax, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the messes closing in on me, cold leftovers from a weekend where nine people, (three under the age of six,) made ourselves at home.

In quick succession, I went from Having A Plan, to Barking Orders, to Tossing Random Things Into the Trash. We will not live like this. We are not animals. 

One more sharp swerve and a minor argument bloomed into shouting and tears. Before long, I found myself down at eye-level, apologizing.

I wish I could end the story there, or maybe with my invitation to stir up a treat in the kitchen. Lemon bars - cozy shortbread, bright lemon, a dusting of sugar - everything our day had not been. Maybe we can fake it. Maybe we can bake it.

The bars weren't even cooled when we pushed the needle to the outer edge of the album and played it all again. More disaster. More rage. More of me choosing poorly, shouting when whispering would have been better.

More apologizing.

"But you already said you were sorry," he sniffled. "So it doesn't seem like it's true."

The adoring Jerusalem crowd attended to the mundane details of their week, turning imperceptibly from praise to persecution, their self-protection doused with the gasoline of shared fear, until the heat of their fury would be felt to the end of days.

Maybe it took nearly a week.

Or maybe, held against the light of eternity, a week is but a moment.

Maybe the time it takes for a parade to turn into a riot is only as long as it takes for breakfast to turn into lunch.

~

This year, holy week began with the reminders that I'm not so holy at all. Pride. Anger. Impatience. Discontent. I traded my palms for stones, and I hurled them.

This week marks the beginning of the end.
It is also the end of the beginning.

The best place to start is the truest place, and I am right there with the fickle crowd, triumphant and vengeful.

Savior, healer, redeemer, please rescue us from ourselves. Lead us through the terror and into the empty tomb.

Hosanna.



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  1. Yes and Amen. How you speak my heart. How I cry out to love despite the attitudes and annoyances. Thank you, honestly, for sharing that you yell. I hate that I yell and I'm thankful I can come back and say sorry again and again. Just like with my Heavenly Father, how often, I say sorry again and again. How I don't deserve His love and forgiveness, how I don't deserve love and forgiveness from the wounded hearts I love so much yet not like I want to. God Bless you Shannon for reminding us that we are among the throng that chose Barabas, that we yell Crucify Him and then come crawling back.

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