In many churches around the country, today marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Traditionally, Lent is considered a time for prayer, penance, and reflection as we prepare to celebrate Easter. We mark the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service that includes imagery of ashes (and sometimes real ones) and the words, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Lent has also traditionally included the practice of giving something up in order to bring our relationship with God into greater focus – sometimes fasting, or sometimes giving up a habit that has become distracting or unhelpful in our lives.
However, Lent can also be considered a time to focus on our relationship with God than on any type of self-deprivation we can come up with (although for many people, the act of abstaining from something is still an important and spiritually fulfilling aspect of Lent). This focus can include, instead of giving something up, adding something to daily life: a time of reflection, perhaps, or some reading, or another spiritual practice.
Here at A Rocha USA, we believe that Lent is a perfect time for spending quiet, reflective time in nature in order to deepen our relationship with God and better understand our role in the great, ever-unfolding story of creation. What about adopting a Lenten practice of spending time in creation? A daily walk, perhaps? Sitting outside without distraction? Or maybe even planting some seeds (either outdoors or indoors) and watching them grow?
As we begin this season of Lent and draw closer to God in the way that works best for each one of us, A Rocha USA will have a series of posts that explores the connection between the Earth and its Creator, drawing on the beauty of the hymn “Now The Green Blade Rises.” This hymn was written in the early 20th Century by John MacLeod Campbell Crum, using a 15th Century French tune. It celebrates the parallels between God’s Easter story, God’s creation story, and the story of God in each of our lives.