A reflection on the Eve of Palm Sunday 2020
As I am writing this, it is the Saturday before Palm Sunday. This year, Holy Week will be very different from the previous times we have prepared for our Easter celebrations. Our experience this year will bring us closer to the experience of the first followers of Jesus: they too saw a crisis unfolding in front of them, without knowing where it would lead them. I suspect that this is the first time that we really share in their uncertainty, rather than knowing the outcome of the story already.
One of the questions I asked myself today was what the disciples were doing on the day before Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem? What were they doing to prepare for the unknown as they travelled towards the city?
Like us, were they speculating what would happen in the days and weeks ahead? Like us, were they worrying about very practical issues, such as food and water? Like us, were they worried about their families, particularly those who were elderly or ill; those whom they hadn’t seen for a while? Like us, were they trying to be a better version of themselves through study, prayer and acts of kindness. And, like us, did they have times when they felt overwhelmed, frustrated and disappointed?
Our worries, our fears and our limitations are what it is like to be a human being. Each of us is affected by this time of restrictions and uncertainty in different ways, and we respond in different ways too. However, speaking to others makes us realise that we have much more in common than we had thought. If we live in a busy household, we may want to get away from each other. Yet, if we live alone, we may crave some human contact that isn’t on a screen. However, in both cases, we would like to get back our control over the situation: to have everything going back to ‘normal’.
Going back to Holy Week: what are the preparations we can and we need to make? How do you prepare if you don’t know for what you are preparing? I would like to suggest two things. Firstly, let us learn a little bit better to acknowledge our limitations. Instead of trying to expect too much of ourselves, realise that we too are human beings. Secondly, share your fear, your worry, with someone else. The process of putting our thoughts into words already helps, and sharing it with another person will help you not carry it on your own.
As we prepare to celebrate a new beginning on Easter morning, can we, like the disciples, do this with the trust they had? Can we, like the disciples, follow without knowing where we will be going? And can we, like the disciples, not lose hope?