Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.
I arrive at church, we start the service outside and hear the story of Christ the king, riding into Jerusalem, victorious;
We wave palms and sing as we process into the church.
Once inside, my grandson reaches his hands up to me,
Arms outstretched, total surrender, face gazing upwards.
I hold him.
He lays his head on my shoulder and begins to relax,
I sway to the rhythm of the liturgy,
I sway to the reading of the passion of the Christ;
It’s a long and solemn reading today.
Ezra is easily lulled to sleep by both the swaying and the reading.
At long last, the retelling of the story is finished,
“By the words of the gospel, may our sins be blotted out,”
And the ornate blue and gold book from which the gospel was read, the fragrant incense wafting heavenward, the priest, the deacon, the acolyte and the cross… they all process back to the altar and we are seated.
I sit and Ezra wraps both legs and arms around me, and turns his head slightly upward,
One cheek pressed to my chest, mouth open, breathing evenly, deep in slumber;
I gaze at his sleeping face as the homily and then the liturgy continue.
We spend the next hour this way.
An endless hour participating in a heavenly dance while gazing on my sleeping grandson, as he snuggles against me;
I contemplate his face with a long and loving look,
I breathe in the scent of him as I give soft kisses to the top of his head,
When my daughter looks at me and at him and we exchange knowing smiles, I mouth to her “I love him so much.”
He sleeps on, even when the liturgy has finished, and we go forward to receive the Holy Eucharist;
I kneel there with his sweet, baby breath in my ear, softly snoring on my shoulder,
I eat and I drink and I turn him sideways so that even sleeping, he can receive a blessing along with the sign of the cross on his little forehead.
I remain kneeling while the priest who is also my husband, asks my daughter kneeling beside me, who is also Ezra’s mother, if he can also bless the unborn child in her womb.
He places his hand on her growing belly and says “the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, be with you and remain with always” and he proceeds to make the sign of the cross, and I watch his eyes grow big as he whispers to our daughter “Did the baby just kick?”
Her eyes grow even bigger because she has not yet felt this baby move and she says “I think it did!”
She looks at me, smiling, as he walks on down the line and she whispers in amazement, “It’s still moving!”
We stand and walk back to our seats where I settle in again and Ezra nestles deeper, eyes still closed, breathing still rhythmic;
I take it all in, still tasting, still swallowing, still digesting.
Amazed that I am here, that I am loved, that I am loving.
Thankful for this hour
… and for the hours yet to come.