I’m touch and go mood-wise today. Palm Sunday, today, the beginning of Holy Week before Easter, triggered me. I hope this Holy Week gets better. Last year a week before Palm Sunday I was hospitalized partially because flashbacks of leading Holy Week services were too intense and suicidal ideation strong. Holy Week is gonna be hard this year, isn’t it?
I started out ok today, but songs on the radio were making me feel emotionally vulnerable. Then I walked in and saw the palm branches. All through the worship service I tried to praise God. I tried to praise Jesus, to put myself at the roadside that day he rode into Jerusalem.
But all I could think about was that Jesus knew this would end in death (even death that would be redeemed through resurrection – there is still Death). Jesus knew that he had a lot to say in a few short days, and many people would find him heretical, controversial, worthy of death to stop his speech about subverting the usual way of things – the upper echelons of political power that preyed economically, physically, mentally on the, say, 99%.
I could not find the joy in this triumphal entry before all that would happen. Instead, it was as though I was entering the city with Jesus’ foreboding and as he wept over Jerusalem (in a later day of Holy Week).
In the Luke text today, Jesus tells the fuming Pharisees not to hush the children and the people shouting Hosanna, for if they were silent even the stones would cry out in praise.
I can’t offer praise right now.
I’m very glad that the stones of churches throughout the nations can hold praise and sing. I’m very glad the people in those churches can also praise while I cannot. As I drive through my area, I see the churches, their stones, and see them as edifices that hold faith. I’m grateful they can, while I cannot.
During the drive and worship service I also was plagued by memories of leading congregations through past Palm Sundays, Maundy Thursdays, Good Fridays, Holy Saturdays, and Easter Sundays. Only the ones where I pastored are these memories painful, even when they were beautiful experiences. Where I was intern or youth director, the memories are not painful, just joyful. It’s only the painful memories that plague me.
At one point during the service, an ambulance and fire truck flew by, and I thought, “Please, oh please, be coming here to get me, insert an IV, give me drugs to make me sleep the sleep of the dead. Make the pain stop.”
This is not the best thought to have.
I talked with the pastor and a friend after the service and made sure I was not alone the rest of the day. I knew that even if this thought passed, as I knew it would, I was vulnerable today, and I should not be alone. So, I’m using skills this year to make it through these icky times.
Tonight at dinner with my spouse, I again was feeling agitated and worried about thoughts and memories that keep coming up to plague me. Interestingly enough a song on the radio as we came home helped – just stayed in the moment with NIN’s “Closer.” One of my old favorites!