Meditation Monday – Creating a New Lenten Garden for 2024

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

I have gone from not thinking about Lent at all to having it become the main focus of my time. Over the weekend I created my Lenten garden. It was a fun contemplative process to work out the theme, find plants, rocks and other decorations and then put the garden together. It has been a wonderful way to prepare myself for Ash Wednesday and the whole season of Lent. I know it will provide a wonderful tool for centering myself each morning as I begin my day with God. It gave me an opportunity to think about Lent and what I hope to learn from it this year.

My theme for the year is “For Love of the world God did foolish things” so my first step was decorating a stone and writing the words around the decoration as a centre piece for the garden. Painting the rock gave me plenty of time to think about what the love of God means to me and how I have seen it expressed in my life and around the world during my lifetime. It was this that inspired the poem I wrote last week:

For love of the world,
This beautiful yet pain filled earth
On which we live,
God does foolish things. 
How strange and unwise,
To send a much beloved son
To dwell amongst us,
Knowing he would die
A tragic and painful death.
Only love would be so reckless,
And so vulnerable.
Only God would care so much
For those who 
despised and rejected Holy love. 
For love of the world,
God does foolish things,
That turn the world upside down. 
And bring life where we expected death. 

(c) Christine Sin 2024

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Unlike for Advent, when I bought several new objects to decorate my sacred space with, for Lent I wanted to only use repurposed objects. Lent is a season for cutting back and fasting, not one for spending. I chose plants from my huge collection of succulents, that I felt best represented the wilderness into which Jesus retreated. The desert is not dead. The plants that grow are able to survive with very little water however and they remind me that Lent is a time for learning to do without even the life giving water that we usually drink in abundance. I added sand to make it feel a little like a desert, and then more small stones, sprinkling my collection of heart shaped rocks around the entire garden.

Behind the garden I placed a plaque that Lilly Lewin gave me several years ago to emphasize my theme. As Lent progresses it is possible that I will add other Lenten symbols like crosses to the garden but I feel that this will work well for the beginning of Lent.

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One of my practices for Ash Wednesday is to burn the crosses and palms from last year’s Palm Sunday parade. I will probably sprinkle some of the ash over the garden too. Will continue to share reflections as the garden inspires me.

This is the first contemplative garden I have created for almost a year and it is good to come back to this practice again. I love the whole process of its creation which begins with dreaming, then moves through the gathering of materials to creating before I get to the stage at which it is ready to be used for meditation. Finally, after Easter I will enter the last stage of the garden’s life – letting go, a hard but necessary step. As I comment in my book Digging Deeper: The Art of Contemplative Gardening,Accepting and incorporating impermanence into our rituals enables us to accept and embrace change in a healthy and liberating way. We let go of our desire for permanence, of control, of acquisitiveness and even of our creative process. It is hard but we learn a lot in the process about ourselves, about God and God’s good creation.” it seems even more relevant as Lent slides into Easter.

As we look ahead towards Lent there are two questions I find myself grappling with that I would also like to challenge you to consider:

For love of God what is one thing you would like to give up during Lent?

For love of the world what is one thing you would like to give up for this season?

When I asked participants this at a retreat several years ago, people commented that it is easier to think of what they want to give up for God than to think of what they are willing to give up for the good of the world. Yet there is so much that we need to think about giving up. Perhaps there are privileges of wealth and education we need to give up. Or prejudice against those of other faiths, sexual orientations, or ethnic groups. Or you might consider giving up your car or the heat in your house for several day. Whatever you choose it might make you look foolish in the eyes of your friends or the world but if it makes God’s world a better place it is worth it.

I pray that you too will take time to develop a good focus for Lent and work towards a process that helps prepare you for the wonderful celebration of Easter. As part of your Lenten observances consider joining us for our upcoming Lenten Quiet Day retreat: Beauty Into Ashes.


Join Christine Sine on March 2nd 10a-12p PST (check my timezone) or watch the recording later.
What do you long for as you look towards Easter?
How can we create Beauty from the ashes of the past? 
The Lenten season is meant to be a time for reflection, retreat and refocusing in preparation for our celebration of Easter. Yet most of us find it hard to take time out of our busy schedules for this much needed reorientation time.
Join Christine Sine for a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of our chaotic lives. 

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