Palm Sunday

Trip Start Jan 23, 2008
Trip End May 23, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Today we attended Mass at the lovely cathedral in Macas to celebrate Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos). The use of the word 'ramos' (bouquets) is a better description of the traditions here than simply palms.

Here, people don't just go for a single palm leaf folded into a cross, they carry huge inticately woven palm creations of various shapes and sizes. Most also include sprigs of rosemary and many also featured a red rose. Before mass, eveyone gathered in the plaza in front of the cathedral for a small service before processing to the church.

Of course, we did not have our camera with us, and I am sorry that I can't share the images with you. But I will never forget the amazing sight of hundreds of these extravagant palm creations in the plaza, in the procession, and in the church.

The service was standing room only, with folks lining the walls and filling the back of the church. A large group of teenagers filled the front of the church, and kept busy a white-clad nun, sushing and casting significant looks to the restless youngsters. When we sang (well not us because we didnt know the songs, but all the others) the church was filled with hundreds of voices.

But the most powerful moment for me was when during the benediction at the end of mass, everyone held up their palm creation and shook them. I love the benediction anyway, and the sight of the palms raised in unison combined with the aroma of so much rosemary was a heady experience. It was also touching, as we had no palm creation to hold up and shake, a lady sitting behind us gave us a sprig of her rosemary, and Bill and I held it up together, relishing this unique moment of fellowship. We didnt understand everything in the mass, but we understood that we were a part of this family of God's.

So on that note:

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
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