(Please be aware that during the season of Lent, these weekly devotions will be arriving in your inbox on Tuesdays.)
I see them a few dozen times a day … every time I walk in or out of my office. They sit in a wicker wine bottle basket just inside the door to my office. Each Palm Sunday a few industrious Lenten elves craft a couple dozen of these palm crosses from the leftover palms not picked up by worshippers. They sit in my office all year on top of a bookcase waiting for their moment in the sun … the start of Lent. A good many are sacrificed to the flames of our Shrove Tuesday Palm Burning service, but not all of them, because there are more than enough palms brought from worshippers that night to satisfy the fire gods and offer up enough sooty residue from which ashes can be made for the next morning.
I will watch these palms all season long until this year’s Palm Sunday arrives. They will remind me of the start of the holiest week of the year, and the Palm Sunday festival that will kick off that week. When my energy for the season fades, or I lose my focus because of other commitments and tasks that summon me away from my Lenten reflection, my little palm warriors will quietly remind me over and over and over again as I walk past them all day long. And I will be grateful for the reminder.
As your Lenten season begins, do you have a focal point or two, that help you keep your eye on the prize as this gloriously complex season unfolds. Maybe it is a favorite cross … maybe it is a swath of purple cloth that hangs across the corner of your mirror … maybe it in a favorite devotional book that you use every year and which sits on your nightstand … maybe it is a prayer stone, or a Lenten bookmark in your Bible, or am palm cross that you made last year. Whatever it is that serves to help you keep focused on the season of Lent, I pray that it will be a powerful talisman of the only real image that will matter as this season winds to a close … the image of our savior on the tree of suffering and salvation … the cross whose suffering offers to us a glimpse of God’s glory.
The season has just begun … we are in this for the long haul of a few more weeks … and it is easy to be distracted. I pray that you will find your icons and talismans and symbols that God will use to carry you through this Lenten season’s journey. I’ll be walking with you and praying with you as we keep our eye on the prize.