A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Port Aransas with family for a few days. It was the first time any of us had been there since Hurricane Harvey had passed over this small beach town. On every road we saw restoration and destruction side-by-side. The hurricane was in the far recesses of my memory, but there it was still immediate. Outside each rebuilt business, a pile of debris. Next to each repainted home, another still missing a roof.
One thing was unchanged about Port Aransas: the palm trees. I learned long ago, that these plants thrive along the coast in part because of they way they survive storms. When the winds whip, most rigid structures shatter. Palms bend.
Then they stand again.
Today is Palm Sunday. I’ve written about this day before, and about the palm as an emblem of it’s meaning for Christians. (You can read it here.) Seeing those survivor palm trees presented me with a new twist. What does it mean that the sign of hospitality laid down for Jesus is from a plant that withstands such force, that springs back from destruction?
This time of year, there are symbols of resurrection all around. When Christians observe the resurrection of the Christ, we use springtime images to help us grasp it’s meaning – eggs, butterflies, lilies. Seeds that die in the earth and rise through the soil. Among these symbols rises the palm. I’ve now seen it standing as a witness to the resurrection of a community. For those of us who have experienced or are still going through personal storms, it is encouraging to imagine the possibility of surviving. It has been done before. The one greeted with palms and who faced destruction, stands again with us and for us.