Some thoughts on this Palm Sunday 2019

Today the Christian world commemorates the entering of Jesus into Jerusalem. In fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, was hailed as a king, and honored with the laying of palm fronds along his path.

Now, Jesus wasn't dumb. He knew what was really coming. He didn't get caught up in the adulation. He didn't tally up the palm fronds and equate the number to his self worth. He knew what his worth was. He was the Son of God, come to be the Savior of the World. Just not the way the world had hoped.

But me, I'm no Jesus.  It's so easy for me to get caught up in adulation. It's so easy for me to equate my worth with likes, swipes, show acceptances, painting sales, etc.

It's hard when I am disappointed in life, love, and art. I want to say, " But you liked this, you liked me, I was important, I felt like a queen and now I'm nothing!" It's hard for me to remember that oftentimes the triumphal entry is not the end of the story, but a precursor to the beginning of a deeper and more difficult task ahead that will probably look nothing like the world expects it to.

The work is gritty, un-pretty, unsettling, fierce, and painful. It's not glamorous. It makes the people around me uncomfortable. It's make ME uncomfortable!

I want to get to heaven without having to go through my figurative Gethsemanes first! Gethsemanes are not ego stroking experiences. They crush the ego. But the breaking lets  the light in. I'm not sure how many Gethsemanes I need to go through before I become more like Jesus, but I know one thing. I'm committed to keep going.

It's hard and I don't like it. I want to be on the donkey's back with people cheering me on, but right now I just feel like the.....donkey (see how I didn't swear there?)

It hurts.

So I am grateful to know that this is not the end, that there is more to the story, and that at the end of the garden and the grave there is the REAL triumph. I'm looking forward to that.

(Painting by Jerry Williams)

Hosannas and Hallelujahs

I wanted to add some thoughts about the space between the hosannas and the hallelujahs.

Hosanna is a plea for God to save. Hallelujah is a praise to the Lord for the hope of salvation and exaltation. And in between, there is work to do that is very difficult and uncomfortable. For example, if you're using the butterfly as an allegory for growth; the caterpillar goes from worm to cocoon to butterfly, but in the cocoon, the caterpillar actually turns to goo. Goo. She doesn't just metamorphosize gracefully. She actually turns to a mass of goo. Her between is the goo stage. She is completely undone. That sounds pretty uncomfortable.

Right now the whole world is in that in-between space. I have been in and out of that space in micro-cycles for many years now, moving in and out of small and large what I'll optimistically call "growth opportunities", waiting for what I assumed would be the big and final hallelujah. Some mythical event that I had in my mind that would be the end to my sadness and the beginning of my joy. I'm not sure where I got this idea, but it was there. What are some of your hallelujahs? Getting married? Having a child? Getting that job? Buying that car? Being done with cancer treatments? Achieving your PR in a marathon?

I thought I was there a few weeks ago when, after searching for a house to buy for several months, I finally found one. It was a treasure box of vintage adorableness that made my soul sing! Hard to find in Southern Utah. Surely I was led to it and there were other miracles around the process that I won't talk about here. I put my money down and began to move forward with boldness and certainty, feeling pretty proud of myself.

But then, I didn't feel okay about it. I tried to push through the feelings, sure it was just the discomfort of stepping into something unknown, but my discomfort grew to a level of spiritual panic and body reaction that I have learned to not dismiss. So I withdrew my offer. It broke my heart. I didn't and don't understand it. All I knew is that the moment I withdrew the offer, my body and spirit were at peace.

I was hoping that that house would take me from hosanna to hallelujah. But it didn't and now the whole world has changed and I don't know what's going to happen or if I should even keep looking for a house.

And you know what? I'm so done looking for events or people to take me to the hallelujah. I'm done.

I know there are lots of people in pain and fear right now. I know people are worried. Some people can't even get to the hosanna let alone through the space between hosanna to a hallelujah.

I just want to offer this in case it might help someone. I don't think life is as linear as we wish it to be. I've been in a place with no hosanna. I've also had hallelujahs. I don't know where I am right now. I seem to be simultaneously holding all those spaces inside myself. And I think that's okay. I think it's okay to give ourselves permission to be doubting Thomas AND grieving Mary AND rejoicing Peter all at once.

It's okay to have hope that everything and everyone will be okay AND be terrified that it won't. It's okay to be grateful I still have a job AND worried that because of that job I will bring home a virus that could kill my family. It's okay to love your people AND love yourself more even though it feels selfish. And all those other dualities and discomforts of life that we wish away but are actually an integral part of existence.

I think it's okay to gather up your palm fronds of hope and fear and wave them around the best you can and hope that it will be enough. I'm going to give myself permission to go to the mythical land of hallelujah whenever I feel it bubble up inside me. I'll do my own internal hosanna shout whenever I feel it. I'll shout hallelujah every time I wake up and I'm in my body and I'm feeling all my feelings and it's a victory over past trauma. I'll hug my kids and enjoy my friends and paint and laugh, cry when I need to, and hope for guidance on house buying and other concerns. And it will have to be enough.

I'm pretty sure Christ will make it enough. I don't know what that enough looks like, but I'm open to finding out.

Happy Palm Sunday, 2020. HOSANNA AND HALLELUJAH.