I listen to the birds singing on this beautiful, sunny spring day. As I breathe deeply, my lungs fill with the freshness of the fragrant, crisp air. All seems well in this little corner of my world. But it’s not. On this Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the year, we are cloistered in our homes. People are fighting for their lives and struggling to take a breath – something we take for granted.
On this holy day in the past I have gone to church and somewhat dreaded standing through the long Sunday gospel. It usually took only about 15 or so minutes as the priest and deacons took turns reading the different passages, but it seemed like an eternity. As a child, it was tiring and boring to stand for that length of time. It felt torturous. As I got older it seemed like a chore you had to endure once a year. Through the years I have come to terms with this day and the reading of these familiar words. Today, especially, I wish I could be in my church and hearing this important recounting of my faith. But I can’t – no one can.
This year life as we know it has changed. Covid-19 has taken us down to our knees as people get sick and die while overwhelmed healthcare workers struggle to care for the gravely ill. We are all scared and puzzled by what has happened to our world. And this week will be overwhelmingly even more frightful in our corner of the country as we reach the so-called apex of this invisible killer. This year we are not bored. We are anxious. Our Military is stepping in to assist and maintain some semblance of order in our country. Schools are closed. Businesses are closed. Churches are closed. People are unemployed and broke and hungry and searching for faith in the midst of this pandemic.
This week, when we need it the most, Holy Week will not be celebrated in the way we are used to. On this day, Palm Sunday, I wish I could go to church. I wish I could stand during the long, extended gospel reading and would do it without complaint and without tiring. The tradition of my faith has become so much more important in the grand scheme of things. This day I question how idiotic it was for me to ever tire of listening to the words of this most important gospel. It seems like such an inane thing to dwell on in such a horrific time. But it is especially in times of trouble that your faith becomes even more precious. It’s the thing you hold close to your heart in times of struggle.
So, I will read this passage at home alone as I practice social distancing and offer it up for our world as we now know it. I’m asking for God’s strength and care for all of us in the uncertain days ahead.
Hold on tight to your faith, practice gratitude, be still and breathe.