Palm Sunday has come and gone and with it, we’ve entered Holy Week. We will begin our preparations for our Easter celebration, buying provisions and baking, but at the same time we enter into the greater solemnity of the days toward that end. In our house, the soundtrack for this week is “Lamentations: Holy Week in Provence” by the Boston Camerata. It is beautiful music, and it feels appropriate for the mix of emotions this week brings. The week will bring us Good Friday, of course, but before it, Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, one of the most beautiful nights each year, when Seth and I make our pilgrimage to three churches in the late hours of night, a custom taught us by my grandmother, Assunta, who also taught us to light candles in each church we visit, though on Holy Thursday, usually you cannot, for often the saints are covered in purple cloth and the only candles lit are the ones that were lit for the night watch. There is a palpable melancholy in the air that night, as we sit and visit and wait. But I like melancholy sometimes. At the night watch on Holy Thursday, all that’s asked of us is to be present, and there is something so lovely about that.
And so this is my wish for us all for this week: simply to be present in our preparations for the celebration of spring and renewal that is to come and open to the beauty. Be it in melancholy or in joy, or hopefully in some melding of the two. This week teaches us, perhaps better than any, that it is necessary to set the stage for joy if we are going to be authentic about singing its praises, and this is something I value immensely.
Image: A nighttime image taken one Holy Thursday pilgrimage on the courtyard at St. Edward’s, Palm Beach.