Message for Lent

Lent--the word itself in Old English and Dutch as well--means spring season and while that doesn’t officially start until March 19th, the buds on the plum trees, daffodils, and new growth on my rose bushes seem to suggest that spring is here already.

Since gardening has become more and more part of my life, I’ve been reading books and watching television shows about plants, landscaping and vegetable gardening. One thing that I found interesting was the definition of a weed, which according to one author, is any plant growing where you don’t want it to be.

This reminds me of the definition of sin I recall from Sunday School, that is “anything that gets in the way of our relationship with God.”

That’s the invitation of Ash Wednesday and of the season of Lent as a whole, this is a time for us as individuals and as communities to deepen our relationship with the Divine --- to pause and notice the weeds, those things that have grown up in the gardens of our lives in places we did not want them and to scrape, pull, or dig them out.

Lent is also a great time, as is the season of spring, to notice those relationships, those plants, that are growing well that perhaps have even sprouted pups, that are ready for a new spot of their own, it’s the season of separating bulbs so that those healthy and verdant things might have the space necessary to grow more abundantly. What activities, relationships, or practices might you embrace with greater vigor during the upcoming season of Lent?

Ash Wednesday and Lent are not lonely go it alone activities, and like gardening there’s so much to be gained by connecting with people who have similar interests. Perhaps this is a season when you choose to take on a new study group, or discipline, a time for moving in a new direction or choosing in a deeper way community that enlivens and animates those things that grow your relationship with God. In this issue of Canterbury Tales you'll find information about St. Anselm's Lenten Sunday speaker series, Thursday evening "Living Well Through Lent" study group on zoom, and the return of the 5 p.m. Sunday service.  

A few years ago I was walking on the Ohlone Greenway just down the hill from our home in El Cerrito and I was amazed by all the people utilizing the path on bikes, running, and simply strolling along, and then noticed folks working in gardens along the way, pulling weeds, and then I happened upon a man who was kicking glass off the path that someone had either intentionally or accidentally broken right in the middle of the path covering both sides with little bits of shattered glass. His young daughter was seated in one of those nice strollers with bicycle tires, the man was clearly worried about their own tires being punctured, but also about the many others riding by whose bikes, strollers or other vehicles might be damaged by passing through those shards. His care made me want to stop and help, and for 5 minutes or so we silently stood there kicking the glass off to the sides of the path. There was something prayerful about that activity.

May Lent be a time for all of us to engage in activities and practices that deepen our relationship with the Divine, help us grow more fully alive and remove obstacles along our shared paths.

The Rev. Will Scott

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