It’s Palm Sunday and also the First of April – April Fool’s Day. I suppose that must have happened many times before, but it’s the first time I’ve been aware of them falling together. It opens up a lot of potential for comment, but I will be strong and resist the temptation to start philosophising on that coincidence.
Instead, I’ll concentrate on the fact that it’s also a glorious sunny day, clear blue sky, tulips out, the azalea buds about to burst open, and birds singing. Mom’s garden is looking pretty again and April is living up to all the clichés – we shall probably have some showers later, and those in the areas declared “drought” will be very happy. Or maybe it won’t, and the Weather Clerk is making April Fools of those doing a rain dance.
As children, we always went to Church that Sunday even if we weren’t regular churchgoers, the chief incentive being a palm cross. These were handed out as a symbol of Jesus entering Jerusalem and being greeted by people waving palms. To us children, the palm cross answered that basic infantile need to collect things. It was a cleverly contrived piece of craft. It was also something for nothing.
Some of us went to Sunday school faithfully every week simply in order to collect the religious pictures handed out for regular attendance, with little understanding of what Christianity was really about. We liked hearing the stories, acting them out, drawing pictures, singing the familiar songs and hymns, and being rewarded for our ability to quote Bible verses learned by rote, whether they made sense to us or not. There wasn’t much else to do on a Sunday afternoon in those days. Nevertheless, in my case at least, those seeds planted in what seemed pretty infertile soil did finally begin to germinate, and come to fruition decades later.
Although this palm cross has hung in my mother’s house for years, I have only just asked her about it. It turns out that she was given it at Church one Palm Sunday when my father was in hospital, and she took it to him at her next visit. We have tried to identify the year, but can only pin it down to sometime between 1980 and 1986. But in fact the year is irrelevant. It isn’t a talisman, icon or religious relic, either. It’s the associations that matter.