It was about 10:30 a.m. when I heard an enthusiastic if not entirely accurate trumpet version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a few faint voices singing along coming from the direction of the normally quiet street outside. That got my attention.
I opened the front door to see the end of a procession of perhaps twenty elderly women, each no taller than 5’2″, holding palm branches, trailed by one frail man who looked to be in his 90s aided by a younger man in his late 70s, all following the man blowing the trumpet.
I leaned against the wall to watch.
I guessed they had walked from the church less than a block away. When the church was built in the 1950s, this area was a barrio, a closely knit community of people who, on hearing the clarion call of the trumpet, would have emerged from their homes and happily joined the merry band of palm waivers.
They were five houses down from me when they all stopped. The leader announced, “I guess we can’t wake them up. No one is coming out.” Just as he completed that sentence, his eyes met mine and he bellowed, “Except for her!” All eyes turned to look at me. With big smiles on their faces, the group did a slow pivot, held those palms high, and sang a rousing, “Alle alle luuuuuia! Alle alle luuuuuia” as they converged around me. Several handed me their palms. When the song was over, we exchanged greetings and hugs for a happy Palm Sunday. Then the leader fired up another round of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and they were off toward the church with renewed energy.
I wish the people in the neighborhood had flung open their doors and joined in the spirit of the procession. I truly do. But I was graced with all the smiles and love they hoped to give to many that Palm Sunday, and I was moved.