I love it when the snowdrops flower. They are the first touch of spring in my garden, encouraging me to believe that change is on the way and a new season of growth and flourishing is about to emerge.
For me personally it is very much a season of change as I prepare to travel to Australia next week to see my family. It is my first visit in 4 years and I can hardly wait. I feel a little ambivalent about how to approach my spiritual life during the journey however. I leave on Ash Wednesday and will spend the first 2 weeks of Lent in Australia, focused on everything but fasting, repentance and preparation for Easter. This week I will set up my new Lenten contemplative garden and perform my finding beauty in the midst of ashes ritual a week early, but apart from that I am not sure where my Lenten journey will take me this year. That is part of the reason I shared Getting Lost as A Spiritual Practice for my Meditation Monday this week. Getting lost is a practice that encourages me to walk slowly, to look with wide open eyes and avidly listening ears, to pay attention with all my senses. It is one way of saying it is not the destination that matters but rather the journey. From that perspective it is a perfect practice for Lent, a season for slowing down and noticing the journey rather than worrying about the destination.
Once I return, my focus will be on my upcoming Lenten retreat Preparing for the Garden Walk of Holy Week, a quiet reflective retreat the week before Palm Sunday to help prepare us for the challenging week ahead. This retreat is not just for gardeners. It is for all of us who want to follow Christ into the resurrection world of Easter. In the last few days of his life, Jesus moved from garden to garden from suffering to resurrection, a concept that has long intrigued me. This year, my reading has expanding this understanding and the incredible connections between Christ’s journey and creation. I hope you will join me for what will be an inspiring and I think revelatory retreat time.
Once again I want to highlight the resource lists for Lent, Holy Week and Easter on Godspacelight that you might like to revisit as they have now been updated for 2023. There are lots of links to prayers, posts and activities. Our prayers by well known religious figures like Henri Nouwen, Mother Theresa, and Thomas Merton are interspersed with prayers from Godspace writers and friends in the every popular Lenten prayers post. If there are other resources that you think should have been on these lists please do not hesitate to send us your suggestions. If you know a prayer that you think should be on this list please let us know.
I have not forgotten that today is Valentine’s day. In fact some are calling February the love month, and what better place to focus our reflections at this season than on the love of God as it is expressed in 1 Corinthians 13. Lilly Lewin’s Freerange Friday: To be Kept by the Father’s Love is a great place to start as you reflect on God’s incredible love. Hilary Horn’s Building Deeper Connection During the Love Month is another excellent read.
We continue to lift Turkey and Syria and Ukraine in our prayers. Our hearts ache for the many people in all our countries who face the threat of violence and oppression. As I prayed this morning another prayer surfaced in my mind:
I start the day in the dark,
Aware that alone I cannot see
A single step that lies ahead.
All is mystery, hidden, unknown
In this tainted world
Of sorrow and heartache,
God’s glory still shines.
Only God’s light illumines the path.
Only Christ’s light shines around us.
The darkness is not dark to God.
Even in the midst of tragedy,
God’s light shines.
In all things, around all things, through all things.
Illumining the darkness with God’s eternal flame.
Preparing for the Garden Walk of Holy Week
In the last few days of his life, Jesus moved from garden to garden from suffering to resurrection.
Join Christine Sine for a Lent retreat that reflects on this journey and prepares for the challenging week that follows Palm Sunday.