It’s the Palm Sunday shout of jubilation, or so I thought. Originally, the word meant something like “Come to our aid!” or simply, “Help us!” The Hebrew priests would chant hosanna on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while they circled the altar seven times praying desperately for rain. But as the Feast of Tabernacles shifted from a liturgy of petition to a feast of praise, so too the simple cry for help turned into a shout of jubilation.
That sounds pretty much like everybody I know. If there ever was a time when we could cry for help, we can hardly remember it. Little children instinctively cry for help. They don’t care if they appear helpless or vulnerable or in great need. Soon, though, we learn not to ask for help. In fact, we develop a remarkable ability to smile and laugh as if things were just peachy even in the midst of struggle and suffering. Help! is expressed as I’m fine!
The mystery of our salvation is this—we must want it, cry for it, allow it. God helps those who send up an S.O.S. Don’t ask me how this works. All I know is, our cry somehow topples our willfulness, our egoic sense of auto-power, and opens our hearts to receive the gift of divine presence.
Hosanna. That is my word for this week. Help me. I invite you to make it your mantra too.
Remember, as well, that if you need help, so does everyone around you (even though they are smiling valiantly and keeping up appearances). Look with compassion on your loved ones, your friends, strangers who somehow sit next to you on the train. In the end, as Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”