On Palm Sunday, during the reading of the passion gospel, my three and a half year old learned that Jesus died. On the one hand, I was swelling with parental pride for his calm attentiveness and understanding of the story. But on the other hand, I was worried about how this new information would begin processing in his young mind.
Maundy Thursday offers a bookend of touch to Ash Wednesday: a touch on the forehead with ashes juxtaposed with the touch of hands, soap, and water on feet. These are fleeting moments of tenderness, thin spaces of vulnerability, connection.
Getting ready for Holy Week, I’m struck, as always, by how jarring the Palm Sunday liturgy is. One minute we’re all shouting “hosanna, hosanna!” (Greek for “save us”) and then the next thing we know, we’re shouting “Crucify him.” It’s emotionally wrenching; hope and expectation give way to fury and fear. No settling in, no probing depths. Our liturgy moves us from place to place, scarcely able to take a breath.
I don’t like doing things badly. I don’t like doing things badly in front of other people. I really don’t like doing things badly with a bathing suit on in front of other people. This was the set of parameters I had to work with for my Annual Discernment of Kit’s Lenten Practice this year.