My daughter held the palm frond as if she’d never seen such a thing. I gave mine a perfunctory wave. We were both visitors, standing in the foyer of an elementary school turned church. The pastor was a friend, but in the ten minutes before a worship service—especially during Holy Week—I wasn’t going to latch on to her stole and demand hand holding. So we stood away from the growing group of congregants, clutching our fronds.
I turned to trivia.
“You know about Ash Wednesday?” I asked my daughter.
She nodded. “They smudge stuff on your head.”
“Ashes. And they get them by burning the previous year’s palm fronds.”
I smiled, knowing I hadn’t punctured the thirteen-year-old’s ennui, but was still pleased with the information. Her casual, “Oh, neat” emboldened me.
“Do you know about Holy Week?”
She did not, which struck me with a momentary panic. The fronds-to-ashes bit was admittedly an outside pitch. Something I didn’t expect her to know. But this—a fundamental part of the faith—was a watermelon over the plate. [Read more…]