Do Not Enter: Staying Put on Palm Sunday in #COVID19 Times

On a day in which Christians around the world remember the movement of Jesus from place to place – with the disciples back to Jerusalem – it is ironic that there is possibly as little movement from place to place as there has ever been in modern times. Even if we want to, it is almost impossible to move from one city to another. Yet that need not make us lose our sense of intentional, purposive movement through life.Jesus sends the disciples to acquire the means by which he would travel into the city – the ass and the colt – to process into Jerusalem whilst the road was lined with palm branches and cloaks. This was undoubtedly an anxious time for the disciples, with the future very much uncertain. However, despite this uncertainty, they have a role to play in the events that unfold: the Gospel recounts the events of their betrayals of friendship. Yet Jesus is portrayed as having insight into what would occur, predicting these breakdowns of trust. And goes on anyway. So must we. We don’t know what our staying put will bring, yet we must trust in the process and go on anyway.At present we are being called to live in different ways to our usual. We are no longer able to be physically present to our friends. We cannot share a meal with them in the same room. Yet we are fortunate that we can continue to be socially present: we can connect through technology, have a videochat cuppa, a virtual vino, attend a zoom book club. If you are like me, you might have reconnected with people you have not been in touch with recently. We are learning to be intentionally present to each other in new ways. How much of this intention that we put into building and maintaining relationships will be retained when we reintegrate physical social presence into our lives?For many of us, the busyness which kept our calendars full and our minds whirring has slowed. We are left with many things to do, and not necessarily the hard and fast schedule in which to do them. Conferences have been postponed, events have been cancelled, concerts have become virtual. We can engage with things as and when we want, on our schedule rather than theirs. This can be freeing or not, depending on how we go about restructuring our daily lives.So, after a Sunday on which I have not done the usual things I would do (reading and writing theology) but have done things I would normally do other days (running and reading novels), time slippage feels real! But I think we need to give ourselves permission to figure this one out as we go. We need to work out how we retain our purposive work – whatever that might be – and our relationships with a different approach to time, place and space.And, missing the palms of Cairns, where we were going to spend this holiday before the world fell apart with COVID19, here’s a photo of what I’m missing!

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