This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. And then on Saturday, Passover begins. This is no accident, of course, since this Sunday we will wave our palms in celebration of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem for Passover-- which commemorates the Israelites freedom from bondage. The layers of ritual, history and meaning are dense and powerful this week, especially as themes of occupation, state violence, corruption, and fear reverberate across space and time.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem in the midst of a violent, occupying regime. He rode in to challenge the forces of oppression and death. He rode in even though a powerful empire wanted him dead. How do we hold this story alongside images of executed Ukrainian civilians? How do we hold this story alongside the passing of draconian laws in the United States? How do we hold it alongside the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world?
Author Anne Lamott wrote yesterday: "God, what a world. What a heartbreaking, terrifying freak show." How do we face it?, she wonders. How do we live? What do we do?
She encourages us to look up, and notice the beauty of the world. But then writes: "how does us appreciating spring help the people of Ukraine? If we believe in chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, that the flapping of a Monarch’s wings near my home can lead to a weather change in Tokyo, then maybe noticing beauty—flapping our wings with amazement—changes things in ways we cannot begin to imagine. I t means goodness is quantum. Even to help the small world helps. Even prayer, which seems to do nothing. Everything is connected."
So when we are frozen in despair at this terrifying, freak show of a world, notice the opening daffodils, the budding branches, the birdsong, and then maybe even pray a big, strong prayer of hope, and maybe it WILL do something. Maybe honoring the sunrise will make a difference in Oklahoma. Maybe donating diapers will make a difference in Minneapolis. Maybe waving our palms will make a difference in Mariupol. Everything is connected, and miracles do happen.