Preparation for Lent: The Art of Gardening
Today, many of us will start our Lenten journey by kneeling to receive the sign of the cross in ashes on our foreheads, along with the words, “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Last year those ashes were palm fronds that we waved on Palm Sunday with the words, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” We will get newly harvested palm fronds in 40 days as Holy Week begins again. It is a familiar routine that binds us with our fellow Christians around the world.
Another routine that kicks in around Ash Wednesday is the preparation of my spring garden. There is much to do to be ready for sowing seeds and planting “starts” that have been nurtured in greenhouses during the cold of winter. I need to make decisions about what to plant. Keep an eye out for plant sales. Shuffle through seed racks at the local garden store. Round up garden tools. Make sure I have both right and left hand work gloves. I need to start turning over the cover crop. Amend the soil with compost. Assemble my crude trellises if I’m going to plant beans. Fix the tomato cages (growing tomatoes in Seattle is an extreme act of faith). I need to make sure I have enough Aleve at the ready. For me, preparing the soil and growing food in my backyard has become a metaphor and symbol of the Lenten journey that leads to the celebration of the Paschal Feast of Easter.
For the past five years, I have been involved in helping put together the Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten Meditations. This devotional guide has been created to accompany us on our Lenten journey as we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s victory over the grave. It also provides focus on alleviating hunger worldwide. So, as we take stock over the next few weeks and are grateful for our own gardens and abundance, we can pray for our brothers and sisters struggling in hunger and poverty.
To further enrich your experience, you can go to our Lent page and sign up to receive your daily devotionals from Episcopal Relief & Development. You can also download the Lenten Meditations booklet and read the Ash Wednesday meditation from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Brian Sellers-Petersen is Senior Advisor to the President at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Photos: Episcopal Relief & Development