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Lenten Desert or Lenten Garden?

Entering into the days of Lent is more difficult for me than usual this year. Beginning these 40 days feels like forcing myself into a fourth year of COVID isolation and wandering. I must have “giving up” fatigue! I was thinking about this challenge while listening to the local news. It was fascinating watching the roller coaster pattern of the weather we have been experiencing in Cleveland. The back and forth from winter to spring reminded me that LENT means SPRING! It was then that I discovered hints of future gardening opportunities. My mood lifted. There was hope! Perhaps this Lent could be a time of preparing for new growth in my relationship with God. What about Gardening with God during Lent?

And then this metaphor evolved:

Before gardening can begin, preparation of the soil is required. The dirt needs air, water and nutrients in order to properly receive the seed. Similarly, my heart needs to be readied as well. I need a regular schedule for my heart gardening: a place that is quiet and undisturbed, a length of time that is devoted exclusively to this endeavor. I will start by paying attention to my breathing so that my thoughts and mental activity will slow down. Slow, deep breathing keeps me from rushing. Reflective music may serve to soften my heart as water lubricates the soil. Scripture and spiritual reading always provide important nutrients.

But what will I plant? What seed(s) will I nourish and grow? What might God want to grow in my heart this Lent? What are some of the ways that God has spoken to my heart in the past? Perhaps I need to plant one of these seeds more deeply in my heart and attend to it throughout the 40 days of Lent.

What words of God might be the seeds I plant?

Psalm 34: “Keep your heart open and free,…. become a peaceful presence in the world.”

Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am Love.”

Psalm 113: “Aspire to …. be fertile ground to the heart-seed of Love.”

John 14:1:”Do not let your heart be troubled, Trust in God still and trust in me.”

John 14: 27: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.”

I will choose only one seed to plant, but I will commit the time, the space, the attention and the Silence necessary at least once every day of Lent. I will plumb the depths of my heart’s soil, allowing the seed to gestate, to emerge above the soil and to become a life-presence. I pray that the seed I plant will be a reminder in the months ahead of God’s abiding action and loving presence in my life and in the lives of all those I hold in my heart.

Sister Anne Marie Diederich