It’s Palm Sunday this week. I remember fondly my mom sewing new dresses for all four of us sisters. Because in Lebanon, we wore our Easter finery on Palm Sunday (Shaynini) as well as on Easter. On Palm Sunday, we paraded down our block along with other bedecked families streaming out of their apartments on their way to their places of worship, waving palm branches and carrying aloft florally decorated candles. In our neighborhood, these places of worship included Maronite Catholic, Syriac, Roman Catholic, and Baptist Churches. I wonder as Jesus processioned on that first Palm Sunday how He was able to boisterously celebrate knowing the impending darkness He was about to endure. Can a person celebrate hope while walking through darkness?
My husband Tim and I found ourselves wandering through some dark seasons in 2015. I will spare you the litany! Suffice it to say, we were looking forward to putting 2015 behind us. I asked Tim to please take me away to a beach for a few days where the salt breeze and pounding surf could wash away our distress.
We arrived at Surfside, Texas in a blustery storm. During the night, the storm literally shook the house, rocking it on its stilts in fits and starts. We woke to a calmer, yet still threatening skyline. The metaphor of the night’s experiences was not lost on us, so we took advantage of our contemplative frame of mind and started our preparation of a testimony we were asked to give at church. As we sat cuddled on the couch, looking out onto a stunning stormy sea-scape, our conversation jelled into a meditation.
Darkness forces us to ask the questions:
- What am I afraid of exactly and how much am I missing by reactively looking for an automatic light source to get out of the fog?
- What would my life be like if I completely trusted the wholeness of the rhythm of dark and light instead of fighting against it?
Fear of the unknown is the main ingredient of dark times.
Each of us has our own idiosyncratic fear. I don’t know anyone who isn’t afraid of being afraid of being afraid! Life has a rhythm to it; there are anxious fear and spontaneous delight, birthing babies and declining with hospice. To crave only the feel-good side of life is to want only half a life, characterized by the constant scrambling to keep at bay the dark half.
Walking with cloudy vision forced me and Tim into a unique intimacy with God while in the enveloping darkness of 2015. We realized on that stormy morning at Surfside that dark and light seasons roll out of the same sea of life, and roll back into it again. Some of the waves are deceptively fierce with a frightening undertow, exhausting in their strength. Other waves are fluttering and soft, cushioning us as we ride them into shore. We can choose to find peace while living with this uncertain footing on shifting sand. Hope lies in that it is OK to lose one’s footing. It is OK to be lost in the dark. Living with this kind of faith, this kind of hope, frees us to be brave in the dark.
Can you walk in the darkness, unsure of your footing?
The next day, the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. They began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”