Mack Williams: Palm Sunday road reverie
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2023
With Ash Wednesday not far in the past, Palm Sunday surely is just around the corner. My church’s Palm Sunday Service, as well as those of many other churches, always kicks off (Sunday football terminology) when the children sometimes thunder down the aisle waving palm fronds (somewhat like football fans supporting their teams).
To some, this might seem “rambunctious behavior” for Presbyterians; but let me remind you: they’re only “junior” Presbyterians!
Even though our Sunday School children didn’t litter the carpet with the palms(remember, they’re Presbyterians), I reflected upon the time palms were strewn upon Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare two thousand years ago.
And speaking of thoroughfare” and “palms,” I have a couple of 4-foot strands of real palm frond in the back glass of my old Oldsmobile Alero. They date from Palm Sunday, 2019, the last “normal” Palm Sunday Service at my church before the pandemic. That morning, there was a small pile of palm strips at the Narthex of the church for children and choir members to carry and wave during Palm Sunday Processional.
I picked up and kept a few of those palm strips that day, later “tucked away” in my car’s back window. Over time, they have have become a sun-and-heat-dried pale beige. Hmm, it just now occurs to me that I deprived them from their natural evolution into “written” ashen Crosses upon the heads of some of the Faithful on that next year’s Ash Wednesday!
When I was a child, we would sometimes get a hand-woven, palm-sized, palm leaf cross and hang it on our living room wall . Perhaps I should try my hand at weaving one of those strips which are out in my car. To me, dried Palm Sunday Palm strips have a special aura, but when woven in and upon themselves, they become an enfolded special Blessing! Come to think of it, those palm strips in my car might have the makings of several Crosses!
The 2019 Palm Sunday Service and the reading of the Scripture concerning those palms of 2,000 years ago on “Jerusalem Road” also got me thinking about historical road surfaces, starting with the Ancient Roman Appian Way, many feet deep, complete with drainage ditches, packed below with stone rubble, and overlain with large, tight-fitting stones (no chance for potholes there).
Another was the Macadamised road (developed by a Scot) with its angular stones mashed together.
In the city where I live, the asphalt paved surface of one street has been removed to display the quaint cobblestones below. Despite my car’s cushioned seat and shock absorbers, when I drive over that particular street, I get a “rattlety,” buck-board feeling “down below!”
Early country musician Uncle Dave Macon sang: “Way Down the Old Plank Road.”(some roads actually were covered in wooden planks and logs in the 1800s).
I then thought about some of those improvised island airstrips built by the U.S. Navy Seabees in the South Pacific during World War II. Some of these consisted of metal sheets overlying rows of cut bamboo.
I then remembered the sunken “Bimini Road” of “Leonard Nimoy In Search Of” fame.
After the Palm Sunday 2019 service was over, and I was still in the midst of my Palm Sunday Road reverie, I drove down a street covered several inches deep with the fallen flower petals of many tulip poplar trees. For the sandled and barefoot walkers of Jerusalem Road, a road covered in such flowers would have felt only one step away from walking on feathers.
This got me thinking of a more pleasant, comfortable covering for Heaven’s streets than the oft-spoken-of metal, gold. That metal is truly precious; but in Heaven’s bright glare, any metal, however precious, would greatly heat up, becoming uncomfortably hot to walk upon!
I remembered the old spiritual, “I’m Gonna Walk All Over Heaven!”
How much more pleasant to walk upon eternally Spring-warm, petal- paved streets, all over Heaven, forever!