On Palm Sunday the Combined Lutheran and Episcopal Congregations processed through the community. Led by the old and young who carried palms, the congregations stopped at various sites to offer prayers: The refurbished municipal building was the first site. The youth program, health center and Registry of Motor Vehicles had recently re-opened. The two congregations had pressured the city and the state to renovate and restore these vital services to the community.The new senior housing in the old high school was the second stop. At these sites we offered prayers of thanksgiving.
As we progressed we started to follow the way of sorrow: the drug house that destroyed the life of one of our children, was now boarded.The boy’s mother and sister processed with us.We stopped at the home of a single mother of twins whose husband recently died. The young mother walked with us as we pushed the red headed boys, Rory and Ryan, in the stroller.
Our last stop was the house of a young Black couple whose little girl died suddenly of what was later determined to be a hereditary illness passed down through the family for generations.The father was a student at the Boston University law school and the mother a nurse. The two were open wounds as we planned the girl’s memorial. The service is a blur now. It was accompanied with news that the social worker at the hospital had begun to investigate the father for child abuse.
The procession was, in part, to remember the child. We carried her picture, like an icon. After a brief and thorough investigation it was determined the family was not responsible for the child’s sudden death. Yet the scars on the spirit of the young couple were etched in their faces, the corners of eyes and mouth. We would not blind ourselves to the vulnerability of our brothers and sisters fierce and fragile souls.
We stopped at the little girl’s apartment on our way back to the church. Her parents walked with us.
It was a good place to stop and pray.
We returned to the church a little chilled and out of breath. The old timers had been driven, or pushed in wheel chairs, from site to site, and we all walked into the church singing hymns and waving branches of palm, having witnessed the victories and defeats of life in our little village in the city.
The way of sorrow, our Via Dolorosa, is not only some path where Jesus walked in Jerusalem. It is here and now, and so is the way to victory and resurrection. Two roads are traveled here and, it seems to me, they are the same road.