Palm Sunday

by Jen Owens

Gathered outside the steps of Holy Ghost Chapel, traffic weaving its way behind us, we held our palms up high to be blessed, singing hosannas as we processed into the high-ceilinged church. There’s something about rituals like these that seeps into parts of me I didn’t know were there, connecting me with a lineage that is bigger than the boundaries that divide us. In the brief moments between outside and in, as the music swells and the sounds of our voices become one song before echoing into a thousand shimmers off the walls, I am overwhelmed with a sense of home.

Kneeling without kneelers, we remember the crucifixion, prepare ourselves for the days ahead. It makes perfect sense that of all the weeks of the year, this is the one that draws me back in to the community that has called me since baptism. I stare into my lap, silently hoping no one sees the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks, wishing away the community for which I was so grateful just moments before, perhaps understanding other Catholics’ desire to be alone together during the Mass.

Although I often feel adrift in the day to day, the Eucharist roots me to the One “in whom we live and move and have our being.” The challenges of life are present as they were an hour before, and they will still be there in the hours after. But I take comfort in this space in which I experience the Divine, calling me out of the depths of myself and into “the world that was made to be free in.”

Jen Owens is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back and a PhD student in systematic and philosophical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. She wrote this post after Palm Sunday service at The Paulist Center in 2009.

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