Every year, Lent starts when the branches are bare, and ends when spring is displayed in budding trees and flowering bulbs. I often engage Lent as a time for spiritual clearing and focusing. This year I was struck by a quotation by Parsch included in Patricia S. Klein’s Worship Without Words: “The dust and dirt accumulated over winter have to be routed. Outside in the gardens, now at the coming of spring, leaves and dry grass have to be raked together and burned. Now, in the time of Lent, Mother Church…like the gardener, is determined to burn up and to rout the dust and trash….” Now – I’d rather compost the leaves than burn them…except on Ash Wednesday. Isn’t this a compelling image of the burning of the palm leaves on Ash Wednesday? We clear away the dry leaves, we burn away sin and excess, we redeem the highly ironic palm branches, something in what we’ve cleared away feeds the soil, and we make room for the planting of new seeds which may bring new life.
This year I am anchoring my Lent with two practices: a Lenten plastics fast/awareness and the planting of seeds for this spring’s garden. Our household’s biggest excess plastic consumption revolves around yogurt. So I am prayerfully searching for ways to reuse those containers at least once. So far, these practices are overlapping: the yogurt containers will host our seedlings until the ground is clear, and warm, and ready for their planting. It’s a start.
Prayer: Merciful God, help me to clear the ground, to make room for the new life you would plant. Amen.
Upper Left Photo: a worship setting I put together for the HDS DUCCS this week.
Bottom Right Photo: from my kitchen window.