Palm Sunday and Pollinator Boxes

For the Monday meditation on April 6, 2020, the day after Palm Sunday. 


Greetings, St. Peter’s!


It’s the morning after Palm Sunday… the beginning of Holy Week.


Let’s just name it: that was a different (weird?) Palm Sunday. It was also amazing.

We are holding our paper palms (lovingly decorated in rainbow colors because green was just not enough) and that we’re in our typical Sunday attire (post-church, that is).



I’m going to resist the temptation to try to capture what Palm Sunday meant to all of us who are socially-distanced this year, and instead, I am going to offer you a photo from my Palm Sunday… the thing I will remember most.


Yep. On Palm Sunday 2020, we installed a Pollinator Box. It’s a simple wooden box where pollinators are encouraged to take up residence. This one has space for bees and butterflies. I received it for my birthday about a month ago, and honestly, getting it installed in just over four weeks is pretty good for me!

Why a pollinator box on Palm Sunday? Well, first, it needed to be done; I needed to get the pollinator box off of our kitchen table. A theological perspective: Jesus often did what needed to be done. He tended to whoever or whatever was in front of him. That’s not a bad way to live your faith; assessing with what you can help that is right in front of you and doing it! In fact, in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, many of us are learning just what is in front of us (people, resources, work, etc.) and what we long to have just in front of us (people, resources, work, etc.)

See what I did there? The list of what is in front of us (and, by default, what we should be focused on) is the same… it’s just that some of the ways that we need to see these things has changed. People who were once right in front of us physically are now on computer screens and in telephone calls, emails, and text messages. And, if you’re like me, that still really stings.


There is emotional work to be done as a result. Resources that were once right in front of us are now being seen again (remember that extra box of _____ that you found last week? The one that you had forgotten about?).


A recent Finance & Ops meeting, over video conference.

Resources that once were right in front of us (quick trips to the grocery store, for example) are just gone. It hurts that our patterns and preferences have been interrupted, and yet, maybe part of what we are to learn in this time is how to adapt and adjust and change for the sake of community. That’s a huge challenge, and when possible, it’s worth taking slowly. And there is still work to be done that is right in front of us… it’s just not necessarily our “regular” work. For those still reporting to work, there are new requirements, new precautions, new focuses. For those who have been forced out of their regular jobs, there’s the work of being furloughed, the work of supporting others, the work of reshaping our dreams and our finances. That is difficult work and not to be taken lightly.


So, yes, the pollinator box started me off on a theological musing about how faith is sometimes right in front of us and sometimes not. And like the pollinators, faith needs a place to call home, a few things to assist in the building process, and the right place to do its work. Weird, but this Palm Sunday, I was ok with weird.

Second, I remembered that “Hosanna!” literally means “Save me/us!” It’s what the people shouted as Jesus walked down that road to Jerusalem… it’s what we sing in our favorite songs for Palm Sunday. This year, deeply missing the full sounds of Palm Sunday and crisp smell of palms being waved in my face by children and adults alike, I heard little bees and butterflies in my head, singing, “Save us!” What? Yep, you read that correctly. I heard little pollinators saying, “Save us from extinction. Save us from a lack of suitable habitat. Save us from not having enough places to work our magic!”


Perhaps you’ve been hearing the “hosannas” of this crisis as well: “Save us from not having enough to eat! Save us by getting the right equipment to the right people! Save us with stimulus money! Save us with online grocery ordering! Save us from becoming too lost in our own selves that we cannot see who is hurting even more!” It’s not the most typical connection for Palm Sunday, but theologically, I don’t think it’s half bad. “Hosanna!” “Save me.” With all of the humility I could muster, I waved my paper palm branch and whispered, “Save us!” to the pollinator box and the universe that surrounded it yesterday. It was weird, but good.


And that’s where I’m dwelling in this wilderness… in the things that are a bit atypical, the things that are weird, the things that aren’t half bad. The things that feel a bit off. The things that make me question but also leave me speechless. Since I can’t have what would feel “right” or “normal” or “just perfect” for this Holy Week, I’m embracing the oddities that reveal The Sacred all around me. That little shift in thinking is helping me through this vast wilderness, and I think it’ll help me on this journey towards Easter as well.

And speaking of Easter… We’re sticking to our “new normal” communication schedule this week. This is our Monday Morning Meditation. We have prepared an At Home Liturgy for Maundy Thursday and a link to our very own St. Peter’s UCC Stations of the Cross, which is experienced on Good Friday, typically. This year, as most of us struggle to even know what day it is, we encourage you to experience these resources whenever they make sense to you! We needed to send them a few days early, though, because the Maundy Thursday Liturgy includes a baking project… and we didn’t want you to be unprepared! Check it out!


To get you started on your journey through Holy Week, I am including one more photo… I took it on the day I learned that long-time member, Barb Hawkins, had died. I had to go to the church to get her file in order to help her family with arrangements, and I felt myself being pulled into the sanctuary.


I followed the pull and sat right in the seat where Barb always sat (third pew back, middle section). I sung the first verse of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, the hymn that Barb insisted we sing every Reformation Sunday. I cried. And then I looked up… and I saw our wilderness altar, our eternal flame and its glorious red and yellow hues, and the gentle shadows of a cross that loomed above. I felt God right there with me in our sanctuary.


This week, I urge you to dwell in this darkened sanctuary. (Don’t literally go there – the building is still closed.) But in your mind’s eye, allow yourself to sit in the darkness, to listen to the story of the final days of Christ’s life, and just be still in the current wilderness that we are facing together.

There’s something beautiful about Holy Week that is far beyond words. I pray that you allow yourself to let the emotions flow and trust that there will be New Life in just a few days but that this year’s New Life will undoubtedly look different than previous years. I can promise you that this year will be different, and if you embrace the different-ness, God might just surprise you with something even more poignant than what you’ve always experienced on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and/or Easter morning. That’s my hope, at least. Here’s to the most quirky, awkward, not-what-I-thought-I-needed Holy Week and Easter ever!


Remember: You are not alone. You are loved. You are surrounded by God’s presence, and we are here for you, even if/when it feels so weird.


Once again, please reach out if you would benefit from a phone call or a video chat. There is no road map for a pandemic like this, and we will support you no matter your current outlook/realities. We mean that.


In Faith and Learning from the Pollinators as well as the Palms,