It’s Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. Jesus, being of the Holy Trinity, knew that he was entering the city in which he would be crucified. His disciples, his flock were unaware so they greeted Jesus as a conquering hero and threw palm leaves in his wake to honor him. It’s a juxtaposition that has always been in my head, the fact that Jesus could go from hero to villain in less than a week.
My heart is heavy. I’m typing this at McDonald’s. I’m having breakfast before I head for church. I know that my breakfast will cause me to be a little late but I’m usually late.
CNN is playing on the TV near me. David Petraeus is talking about the bombing of Syria. He likens Syria to Humpty Dumpty and how he feels that Syria will never be put back together. Petraeus cautions that whatever is done, it’ll have to be a generational act. He talks about blood and treasure and I know that’s what this fight in Syria is about. So many innocent people will be killed so the country’s oil will be preserved.
The poem I’ve chosen for this morning, Palm Sunday morning, is by Ellen Bass. It is called “Pray For Peace” and it’s exactly what I’ll be doing this morning and most mornings. And what I especially love about this poem is that Ellen Bass realizes that we all have different names and faces for our idea of a higher power.
“Pray For Peace” — Ellen Bass
Pray to whoever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah, raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.
Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven’t been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latté and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.
Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.
Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.
If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.
And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.
With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.