Parade of Palms
Annual Tradition Held Palm Sunday in Madison
Story and Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Palm Sunday dawned clear and mild in Madison. Ellen Warren of Full Circle Farm loaded up Lightning, a four-year-old Sicilian donkey, and traveled to town. A small crowd dressed in Sunday best gathered on the lawn in front of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, waiting for the drone of the bagpipe to lead them into a procession commemorating Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
Lightning was new to this task of representing the donkey that Jesus rode into the city, having been handed down the honor from his senior pasture-mate Donkey Oatey. Lightning's handler for the procession, Paul Roman, provided firm guidance to his youthful vigor, and the crowd marched slowly down Main Street, collecting congregants from Madison Presbyterian first, then Madison Baptist, and, after crossing the road, Madison United Methodist Church.
Traffic stopped as the more than 100 people made their way across Main Street. Children waved palms and adults walked quietly, hushing voices too loud or calming behaviors too rambunctious. The bagpipe's song escorted the crowd until they reached the Church of the Advent, where they dispersed onto the lush spring carpet of lawn and awaited the brief ecumenical service.
Members of the United Methodist Church adult and youth choirs inspired voices to rise in praise, while spoken prayers inspired unity among those gathered in recognition of the first day of the Christian Holy Week.
As the morning's benediction came to a close, and the crowd's words "Thanks be to God!" faded into the morning air, the crowd began to scatter, somberly making paths back to their home churches for Palm Sunday services.
Soon, only Lightning and his owner remained on the lawn. With gracious dignity, Lightning once again walked the streets of Madison, returning to the trailer that would carry him to the safety and serenity of his pasture home.
Inside sanctuaries throughout town, Christians began their own prayers, as well.
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 9, 2009 EDITION