Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Flowers for Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday. Lent has begun.
I had great plans for Ash Wednesday. Really cool plans.
 But life does not always get along with our plans. I leave tomorrow for a brief little vacation. And I am not prepared. Not a bag has been packed. Not a errand ran. Not a smart way to start a vacation and a vacation may not really be a smart way to start Lent I guess.  Afterall Lent represents the 40 days that Christ spent in the desert fasting and praying, and the temptaions he faced and denied during that time. Observing Lent means remembering and entering into that desert again as we try to identify with his suffering and sacrifce. So, the question keeps coming to me: How do I enter the desert even symbolically when I am going to a place specifically to eat amazing food and drink yummy grown-up drinks and relax with some my dearest closets friends? I mean really. Does that sound anything like Lent to you?

 Last night as I was fretting about it all, this thought came to me: What if for these first  few days instead of entering the desert, what if I spent them celebrating and reflecting on all the times I have come out of the desert?  What if I remembered the times that seemed the most barren, the most hopeless; The times that when I would have traded almost anything for just a little relief and then somehow, something almost imperceptible  shifted and then clouds parted and the flowers bloomed and I had survived. Sometimes battered, hungry and bruised, but still very much alive. What if remembering and honoring those moments could be the way I entered the Lenten season? Would it be too "off the mark" of what a traditional beginning to lent should be?

Then I read this in Common Prayer
Liturgy is public poetry and art. You can make beautiful art by splashing paint on a wall, and you can also make art with the careful diligence of a sculptor. Both can be lovely, and both can be ugly. Both can be marketed and robbed of their original touch, and both have the potential to inspire and move people to do something beautiful for God. So it is with worship. More important than whether something is old or new, winsome or classic is whether it is real. The Scriptures tell us to “test the spirits,” and the true test of the spirit of a thing is whether it moves us closer to God and to our suffering neighbor. Does it have fruit outside of our own good feelings? Beauty must hearken to something beyond us. It should cause us to do something beautiful for God in the world. 
More important than whether something is old or new, winsome or classic is whether it is real.
 My deserts were real. And so will the time I take to remember them and my prayers of thanksgiving that I will offer will be real too, hopefully coming from a very real and grateful heart.
I don't know if it is the proper way to start Lent, but it is a way and it is a start.


  1. oh blessed be.

    this is just right on.

    remembering my deserts too.

  2. Wow, that Magnolia tree looks amazing. x

  3. This is such a beautiful thought and the trees are gorgeous and so perfect with the words ~ thanks for this good good thought friend.

  4. The photos of the flowers and trees are magnificent. Now I feel like I need to go and do some gardening :-)


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