Grow

Garden of Your Mind

What are you growing
in the garden of your mind –
what do you water
nourish, feed?
Do you plant seeds of forgiveness,
of love,
or do you fertilize weeds of anger
resentment, fear?
What are you growing
in the garden of your heart?
Do you allow sunshine to reach dark pain
in the corners of your heart –
Do you allow tears to wash it clean
and nourish it –
Or do you put up fences
to keep out the feelings?
Get on your knees
grow your own food
decide what it is you want in your soil.
Know what you are cultivating
what you are growing –
a lot can grow in the garden of your body
if you let it seed
nourish it
allow it
watch it grow.

By Whitney Hess, based on a poem by William Wordsworth

Today is the last blog post for the Lenten season, but your growth and transformation do not have to end with the season. Print this poem out and make it a part of moving forward in 2021. Working on our emotional health this year is paramount as we move from pandemic closures to a more open world. What will you grow in the garden of your mind for the rest of 2021?

Thank you to all who joined our blog this year for the Lenten Journey. We hope that you were blessed by all of the voices who shared stories, pictures, journeys, prayers, songs, art, and practices from their hearts.

We will see you back here at Advent.

May the love of Christ fill your life as you nourish your soul and grow the garden that is your mind.

Marcie Doll

Happy Easter! He is Risen! Rejoice!

As I knew I would be away this Easter, I packed items to make my very special Easter altar.

Lord, we lift our hearts to you.

As the dawn breaks, may we carry the unity we share into every moment knowing that we are one with the risen Christ.

Lord, we lift our eyes to you.

As the sunrises, may this moment stay with us, reminding us to look for the beautiful colors of promise in your word.

Lord, we lift our prayers to you.

As the dew air falls, may we breathe this morning in and know that like the earth, you sustain us, keep us and work within us always.

And so, we lift our voices to you.

We celebrate the greatest day in history, when Jesus rose from death, defeated darkness and bathed the world in stunning resurrection light.

May we ever live to praise you!

Amen.

— Author Unknown

The Dark Before the Dawn

Melancholy

The Art Institute of Chicago

Odilon Redon, 1876

The past year has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination.  And so, we arrive at yet another Holy Saturday from within our own tombs.  And for so many, we are even deeper in than last year.  Grief, illness, despair, conflict, loneliness, isolation, loss, instability, fear and anxiety have kept us all in their grip it seems endlessly.

But soon the sun shall rise; soon we will witness the stone rolled away; soon the joyful end will be and we will once again be safe and blessed in the purest joy of the Easter Truth.  

Dear Divine One, as Mary finally did that morning in the garden, may we too have eyes and hearts to recognize You even though we may be blinded with tears and downcast in countenance and soul. This long Lenten struggle is coming to a close and we are nearing its end.  Let us find stillness, solace and hope in these final moments and in the journey traveled, and bear patiently, trusting the Lord who is indeed on our side, and await patiently the light that is to come.   

“Be Still My Soul”, Melody Joy Cloud

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Written by Catharina von Schlegel, 1752

Translated by Jane Laurie Borthwick, 1855

Music from Finlandia, Jean Sibelius

Shared by Karla Hendrick

Were you There?

On this Good Friday, I share very different versions of the song, “Were you There?” The African American Spiritual is attributed to a few different people, but it has been around much longer than when it was first published in 1899. Only God knows….

Shared by Marcie Doll

Maundy Thursday

© Susan Dorothea White

The First Supper, 1988

I was given John 13 to read at our service for Maundy Thursday.  “Oh, yup – that one, I got it.”

I set it aside.

Days later in a tough moment, I randomly opened my Bible for a quick word as I sometimes do, and as it opened, my eyes fell on John 13.  “Hmm, weird.”  I read it through once.

Now again, mere days later, what is today’s Bible passage pushed to me automatically via the Bible app on my phone?  John 13. 

Guess it’s time to really pay attention.

Much has been said about this great teaching of Jesus.  That we are to love one another and follow His example.  But as we gather around the table, each of us a Doubter, a Denier, a Betrayer, or another struggling soul who falls short, how do we love ourselves in order to do what He asks? 

Knowing what every disciple would go and do in a matter of a few short hours, Jesus washed the feet of each one.  This was indeed a powerful lesson in how to be a servant in the world, and how we must love; yet I also believe that in this ritual Jesus offered each man a tangible cleansing of forgiveness – what just might be the most powerful evidence of what love looks like ahead of Good Friday.  Jesus washed even Judas’ feet before he dismissed him to “do quickly what you are going to do”.  I often wonder what Judas must have felt as Jesus approached him with His basin and towel.  Jesus needed Judas to know just how deeply he was loved, even then.

Despite our doubt, anger, procrastination, unforgiveness, worry, discouragement, inaction, busyness, control, fear, judgement — name your poison — our loving and serving others starts with loving ourselves.  Our whole selves. 

So I’m learning this recipe for loving which I believe Jesus serves us in John 13.  Equal parts. . .

Rest                 Stop. Sit down. You cannot have your feet washed if you are constantly on them.

Receive           Allow the Lord to hold in His hands your most worn parts, bunions and all.

Release            Let the dirt and grime go; what’s under the toenails has been there a long time.

Repair             Trust that a miraculous work is moving up through you.

Renew             Know that you’re made clean and whole and deserve to feel refreshed and new.

Return             Go offer this loving kindness in whatever form you can to whomever you can.

By Karla Hendrick

Storms and Hope

Elephants before and after a storm.

During one of our game drives in the Maasai Mara Preserve in Kenya, the bright blue sky turned dark, and thunderous slate gray clouds gathered on the horizon while the wind howled through the grassy plains on either side of us. A storm was imminent.

Our Maasai guide asked if we would like to try to beat the storm and head back to camp or ride it out in the plains. We opted to ride it out as we were enamored with the elephants we had just spotted in the distance. Jacob (our guide) covered the open roof and windows with see-through plastic tarps and drove us toward the elephants. The rain soon came down in big heavy drops that sounded as if a thousand elves were tap dancing on the tarp above our heads. As the wind shook our Land Cruiser, a flash of lightening split the sky followed by a clap of thunder. Even as I enjoyed the spectacle of the storm, I silently wondered if we had made the right choice in riding out the storm.

As if reading my thoughts, Jacob quickly reassured us that the storm would soon be over, and we were safe. He was right. Soon, all was still and quiet and a patch of sunlight peeked through the blanket of dark clouds. The air which had been hot and stagnant before the storm now smelled so fresh and new. I closed my eyes and breathed in as deeply as I could over and over. How could I describe the sweetness of this air? These four words popped into my mind. “It smells like hope.” Yes, it smells like hope I repeated to myself with a smile. It took a storm to bring me the scent of hope.

As we head toward the hope that Easter represents, may we remember that with God, the storms of life can be the vehicles of hope.

Shared by Patricia Wu.

Tiny Practice: Embrace the Uncertainty with Grace

In the past year, we have experienced lots of uncertainty. But throughout our lives, uncertainty will be alongside our journeys. Maybe we should take a different approach…

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” — Bob Goff

Shared by Marcie Doll

My Song is Love Unknown

Written by Samuel Crossman in 1664.

My song is love unknown, 
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, 
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need 
His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” 
is all their breath,
And for His death
they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! 
Yet they at these
Themselves displease, 
and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He
to suffering goes,
That He His foes 
from thence might free.

In life no house, no home, 
My Lord on earth might have; 
In death no friendly tomb, 
But what a stranger gave. 
What may I say? 
Heav’n was his home; 
But mine the tomb 
Wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
in Whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

To me, this is the hymn that helps to guide me through Holy Week.

Transitioning to Holy Week

“Let me fall if I must.

The one I will

become will

catch me.”

Baal Shem Tov

Transitions are messy. Holy Week starts with the promise and jubilation of Palm Sunday. And then, Holy Week turns dark and tragic. But, we know the ending. Friday’s darkness turns into Sunday’s light. The week ends in Alleluia!

As we start Holy Week, take stock of where you are spiritually. And take out your journal. Write your feelings down. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Where are you, spiritually?
  2. What is saving your life right now?
  3. What will help you find better balance in life?
  4. What is bringing you joy?
  5. How can I overcome some of my fears?
  6. Where do you want to be at the end of Holy Week?
  7. Oh and one more thing, in every negative you put in your journal, add an “AND” to the sentence with something positive. It is time to change the conversation in your heart and mind. The “AND” will make a difference.

Holy Week is the chance for us all to grow. Use Jesus’s courage as a model for the journey you will take this week. And remember:

“Let me fall if I must. The one I will become will catch me.” Baal Shem Tov

Marcie Doll

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