My childhood was steeped in religion which I borrowed from neighbors and friends because my family had been alientated by religons which excluded the marriage of a Catholic and Jew.
With each of our moves around the country, I soaked up what I could find, including a broad swath of the Christian variety–from Catholicism to Mormonism, Protestantism to Evangelicism, Episcopalian to Baptist.
What remains of this steeping is a deep affinity for Palm Sunday. I’m uncertain why. Perhaps it was the takeaway. What child could resist having a palm placed in her hand, especially in a climate where none can be found.
Which may explain my delight at finding myself in a predominantly Catholic country last Sunday where palms abound. By mistake, I wandered into an evangelical gathering which eschewed palms so as not to be associated with the “Catolica’s.”
I was so warmly welcomed, however, that I couldn’t turn around so I stayed long enough to enjoy the music and then went in search of some lunch, giving up on palms.
At the corner of Siemptember 11th and Pedro de Valdivia, however, I was lured a few steps further by the ringing of church bells.
Without a thought, I stepped into small stone chapel, and eagerly set down 750 pesos for one of the last of the beautiful bouquets of palm, accented by rosemary.
I entered just before the parishioners lifted their palms overhead in a singing processional out the side door.
I too followed the golden-garbed priests outside, humming along, but then crossed the street with my palm, and headed toward Los Dominicos for the much-lauded Chilean mid-day meal.
As I exited the subway at the edge of town, I turned west to the Andes and climbed a hill toward the artisanal market.
There, I stumbled upon another Palm Sunday celebration, in the open air, coming to a close with a chorus of “Hosanna, Hosanna” and “Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen.”
I joined in, and remembered what it is I loved about the feeling of this day… how Jesus arrived on a donkey, and how palms were placed on the ground to soften his way.
It’s not nearly as dramatic as Good Friday, or as exalted as Easter, but I love how it was steeped in peace and gentility, making it my kind of holiday.
April 2011, Santiago, Chile
Click here to read Easter Sunday.
Click here to read more about Santiago, Chile.
For the previous post in the life purpose series: April 19th.
For the follow up post in the series: Dreaming the Dream