On Palm Sunday, the day that marked the beginning of Holy Week, the church was lavishly decorated with palm fronds. It must have taken several days to set up.
The littlest palm sat patiently on the table looking up at the big basket of palms piled high. All the sand colored palms were so beautifully formed into little crosses knowing they would go to a good home.
Parishioners filled the church. Everyone waited to get their palm. The littlest palm waited anxiously to go home with someone special, but as the priest scooped up several other palms in his hand, the littlest palm fell through his fingers and landed on the table sad and disappointed that it might not make it home.
Then a lady asked the priest for a second palm to take home for someone special who couldn’t make it to church. Since he was so busy, he took the first one he saw and our littlest palm went home with the lady who already had a larger palm.
On her way out the door there were large greenish-brown branches of palms that didn’t make it into crosses. She took one of those too. She wanted to decorate her icons at home. The lady was in a hurry because she had to go to work later that morning. So she got in her big truck and put down her purse, Bible, and palms.
Unfortunately, when she got home, the littlest palm had fallen between the seats of the truck and was lost again. She didn’t have time to look for it. She had to go in and put away the other palms and eat some lunch and get to work. She sold clothes in a deparment store. It was a sale day and people would be waiting for her.
The parking lot was packed with cars and she always parked the truck in a spot further away to make it easier for the other people. She decided to take one last look for the littlest palm and reached her hand behind the seat and there it was. Was it meant to go to work with her? She took the palm inside, taped it to her register, and got busy putting clothes away and helping customers.
She saw one woman who seemed sad and preoccupied. The woman found two or three black dresses and but couldn’t make up her mind about which one to buy. When it came time to check out, the woman noticed a necklace the sales lady was wearing and asked her if she was Orthodox.
"Yes, my mother gave this to me when I was a child and I never take it off," said the sales lady.
They shared some conversation and discovered they both went to St. John’s but had never met before. Then the woman shared some sad news that her father had just passed away and she needed a black dress for the funeral.
The sales lady remembered the priest mentioning the death of a parishioner and realized that this was his daughter. The woman said she couldn’t make it to church that day. Just then the sales lady knew who the littlest palm was meant for. So she finished bagging up the woman's dress, reached over and took the littlest palm off the register, and gave it to her with a hug and a smile.
The littlest palm was meant for someone special who couldn’t make it to church.
Mary Green attends St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida.