by Christine Sine
This week as we pass through the last few days of Lent and walk with Jesus towards the cross, I continue to reflect on my Lenten garden. This week my garden has not changed much, at least not on the surface. Yet hidden beneath the surface new life is germinating. Yesterday I sprinkled wildflower seeds over the garden. Then I watered the seeds, and now I hope to watch them grow.
It’s Holy Week. Jesus is getting ready – not for the cross but for resurrection. “For the joy that was set before him” he willing planted the seed of his body so that walls could be broken down and new life could emerge.
My actions have been inspired by the magnificent photos of Californian desert landscapes bursting into bloom in ways that they have not done for decades. Such beauty thriving where we thought there was only barrenness and lifelessness. Such beauty that has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to drive for hours out into the desert to see. Hundreds and thousands of people who will never be quite the same because of the little bit of God’s beauty that they have gazed on in awe and wonder.
What are the seeds that you need to plant in your life and community to restore desert landscapes of conflict and violence? Or perhaps it is to restore relationships that have been damaged by greed or lack of forgiveness.
Breaking Down Walls Isn’t Enough
It is not enough to break down walls I realize. Scarred and damaged landscapes where walls have been broken down can be transformed into places of beauty and inspiration, but only if we plant new seeds and nurture them into new life. Seeds need to be planted in the places where walls once stood.
Don’t forget: It’s Holy Week. Jesus is getting ready – not for the cross but for resurrection. “For the joy that was set before him” he willing planted the seed of his body so that walls could be broken down and new life could emerge.
Soil that is left uncovered becomes a dust bowl, or it can spread deserts as we have seen in North Africa where the Sahara desert slowly and relentlessly expands each year. Yet even here there is hope. Last week I read about the dozens of countries that have been working to plant a “great green wall” across Africa.
The tree-planting project, which has been dubbed The Great Green Wall of Africa, stretches across roughly 6,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) of terrain at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, a region known as the Sahel.
The region was once a lush oasis of greenery and foliage back in the 1970s, but the combined forces of population growth, unsustainable land management, and climate change turned the area into a barren and degraded swath of land.
Over 12 million acres (5 million hectares) of degraded land has been restored in Nigeria; roughly 30 million acres of drought-resistant trees have been planted across Senegal; and a whopping 37 million acres of land has been restored in Ethiopia – just to name a few of the states involved.
Byproducts of the restored landscape include many groundwater wells refilled with drinking water, rural towns with additional food supplies, and new sources of work and income for villagers, thanks to the need for tree maintenance.
What walls have you broken down during this season of Lent that need to be replanted with life giving plants?
Plant A Seed A Day.
Would you commit to plant one seed a day of love and kindness or generosity over the season of Easter? That I think is all that it would take for us to see our world transformed in ways that we cannot imagine.
Last week I also read about Jadav Payeng, the Indian man who has nurtured 1,360 acres of forest on what was once a barren landscape devastated by erosion. He has planted a tree a day for 40 years. After almost four decades of growth, his forest is now inhabited by hundreds of elephants, Bengal tigers, rhinos, boars, deer, reptiles, and birds.
“It’s not as if I did it alone,” Paying told NPR. “You plant one or two trees, and they have to seed. And once they seed, the wind knows how to plant them, the birds here know how to sow them, cows know, elephants know, even the … river knows. The entire ecosystem knows.” (Read more).
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the task ahead. Breaking down walls, creating new bridges of love and caring seems impossible yet planted seeds do sprout and grow, just as the seed of Jesus’ life was planted and grew into a mighty tree. Seeds can grow into might trees that send out flowers and produce more seeds that spread. It is possible to bring change and transform barren landscapes into places where life flourishes.
Prayerfully watch the video below. Allow the inspiration of Jadav Payeng’s life to seep into your soul. What seeds might God be asking you to plant to bring new life to places where walls once stood?