A few months ago, in preparation for the Women’s Silent Theme Retreat that should have happened on this, the weekend of Palm Sunday, Fr. Bob rightly ordered a goodly number of palms.

As you might have guessed, we did not need *quite* that many palms today. To that end: look for a palm behind the crucifix in your room the next time you stay overnight with us! (May that day be soon! We already look forward with joy to that happy occurrence.)

In terms of the weather, today was an auspicious day to begin Holy Week. The rich blue sky and high temperature of 55 (or somewhere in that neighborhood) drew much of the Village of Marathon City out for walks of various lengths and speeds Рfrom the most unhurried perambulation to the most vigorous run Р up and down the road in front of our house.

Tracy took advantage of the day to tidy up some of the branches downed by last winter’s heavy winds and heavy snow. For this, we are all most grateful. Just Bob would have been aghast, if he could have seen the condition of our lawn before Tracy started cleaning up the winter’s detritus. In an additional and much-needed effort to de-winter our front yard, Tracy and Marge unbundled our magnolia tree from its winter’s blankets on Wednesday evening after having strolled outside to place lit candles on our steps as a sign of gratitude for and solidarity with health-care workers.

The events of Wednesday evening were a prayerful memorial in more ways than one. While the candles called us to remember all those in the health-care profession who give generously of themselves every day to comfort and to save others’ lives, the uncovered magnolia called us to remember a dear friend who was likewise known for her generosity. Joanie Wilichowski gave generously of her time, her presence, and most of all her love. Every day – and for every guest who stopped by or called in to St. Anthony’s – Joanie had love, wisdom, and joy in abundance to share. In grateful and fond memory of Joanie, the brave magnolia on our front lawn was planted last fall. Having conquered its first northern winter, this lovely little tree is certain to enjoy its home here with us for many more years. We will do our best to nurture the tree as Joanie nurtured each of us.

And as we enter into this Holiest of Holy Weeks, let us likewise nurture one another with our love. While we cannot gather physically over the next few days to commemorate Jesus’ last days on earth, we can gather always in heart and mind to honor the example of love that Jesus set for us.

May the eternal and unconditional Love of Christ uplift each of us during this rather unusual Holy Week, spilling out of our hearts to embrace and heal an anxious world.

Deo Gratias!