EARTHY LENT –
Recently, I purchased a plant grow-light shelf for my wife Debbie. Deb’s hope is to grow micro-greens and get a head start on her summer garden plantings. Shortly after setting it up I noticed the strong smell of soil in the house. How do you describe that smell: Earthy, woody, mossy, musty? However you describe it the smell, along with the little plants that are popping up, are good reminders that there is life beyond winter.
Changing earth seasons reminds me of changing church seasons. Once again the season of Lent has arrived in its usual anti-climactic manner. Few of us cheer: “Yea, Lent is here!” Even so, Lent is an opportunity for new life to sprout. We call Lent a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Forty days to let go of what hinders our walk with Christ and take on practices that build up that relationship again. I encourage you to give it a try, I am. A spiritual reboot this time of year sounds good.
One approach, which might open a door to Lent’s possibilities, is to think of it as an opportunity to be earthy. At some point you’ve probably heard me explain that the word human is related to the words humus (soil) and humble. To be truly human is to live humbly on the earth. To know we are made from Mother Earth and will one day return to her. (This is part of the message of Ash Wednesday). This humility-informed way of life was Jesus’ chosen path and the way he called his followers to live. Jesus said, “Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.” This beatitude reminds us that egotism may take one up the ladder of materialistic success, but humility send its roots down into all that is life giving.
So, I invite you to practice an Earthy Lent. Remember who you are and who you are not. Find pleasure in the simple gifts of life: the gift of each day, the goodness of family and friends, of dying to anxious striving and instead trusting God’s generosity, and of walking the Jesus-way of neighbor love.
I know life as an “earthen vessel” is not always easy. Since last Lent I have experienced the death of a child and a spouse with a cancer diagnosis. I’ve been reminded just how precious life is and how vulnerable we humans are! You too have had your own experiences of vulnerability, loss and grief. But our faith is that God has given us an indomitable spirit and that amazing grace comes over and again. I have been blessed with both and you have too. God the Creator loves all that is earthy, especially you and I.
This Lent I encourage you in these ways:
- Remember who you are; a child of the earth, a child of God.
- Slow down your thinking/reactions enough to consider what the humble response might be.
- Pray constantly for the Mind of the One who humbled himself and was raised up by God.
- Figure out what earthly-living means for you. How humility might guide the way you use your money and time, your body; how you lead and what you expect; and, lastly, how you love others.
“From soil we come, to soil we will return.” But thanks be to God who gives life through the Spirit dwelling within us.
Leaning Toward Easter with You,