Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week in the Christian Church. I wasn't raised in any particular religion, my mother having been a lapsed Catholic and my father never in any at all, as far as I know.
But I, during my quest to find my own path, have followed different paths of the Christian faith at various junctures in my life. The first overtly religious path I followed was as a teenager while my parents were living in Georgia. I joined the Episcopal Church and after a while, all of my siblings joined the church also. I loved the pomp and circumstance of the "high" Episcopal Church, with a choir and a priest (Father Shipps) who visited my family at our home and became a friend. I was just eighteen and had recently graduated from high school with no particular direction in my life. As I got more and immersed into the religious life, I flirted with the thought of becoming a nun and looked around for the convent with the coolest habits. (At my age that was the most important criterion for a suitable convent.)
Well, I didn't join any convent, and I went on to become pregnant out of wedlock soon after and was forced into a marriage I didn't want. That was what you did in those days if you got pregnant. Then motherhood and marriage became the center of my world, and my husband was what we called a "Holy Roller" at that time. I went to one of their Sunday observances and promptly stopped going to any church at all. My faith, however, never left me and I eventually joined the Unitarian Church, which was Christian without any of the ceremony, and I learned a great deal during that time in my life.
During my forties, I became quite religious again, and by this time I was living and working in Boulder. I discovered a Catholic convent just outside of town, the Abbey of St. Walburga, and would spend Holy Week there, praying and meditating in solitude. You could stay in a little room outside of the main convent and either have your meals brought to you or join the nuns for your meals. They were eaten in silence with one nun reading passages from the Bible, and the whole week was just bliss to me, being surrounded by the peace and tranquility of the convent.
On Thursday of Holy Week, the nuns would wash the feet of those of us staying at the convent. It was quite a moving ceremony. And I learned that Holy Saturday, the one full day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, was the most hushed and silent day of them all. And then on Sunday morning, the joy and delight of all the nuns, who had stayed up all night to bake cookies and make Easter eggs, was so evident. Nineteen nuns lived there full time, and I toyed with the idea of doing what I began in my teens, but I didn't.
However, even though I don't attend church regularly, prayer and meditation are now part of my life, and sometimes I think of the nuns at St. Walburga and wonder how they are doing. They had a profoundly positive effect in my life.