After a difficult morning in the city, I went to Woodland Gardens, parked my car, and walked a small path, turning circular through the little wooded area.
Everything was dead except for a few patches of green, a few ivy vines stretching from the edge of the path to the sides of my feet.
But there, along the path on the way back to the car, I saw a large log resting sideways, eyeing me, asking me to notice him there.
His outer shell was gray, dead with the cool of winter.
But inside, that inner spot of bark was an orange color, a living-flesh color.
And so I stopped and sat on a wooden bench near a shaded area where the sun was poking her fingers through, reminding me that she was above me and behind me always.
And I sat and prayed to be awake, for the soul that sits alive within me to let itself be known to my outer shell, to those withering parts that ache to see fresh life.
And I said, “Oh, God, wake me up! Wake me up to my senses, to nature, to my own history.”
Today is Ash Wednesday.
Some of us will spread a black cross over our foreheads, admit that we are small and in need of something bigger than that smallness, richer than our dust.
And so with the beginning of Lent this year, can we promise each other something?
Can we promise to share our story with somebody, to pay attention to our own story,
to claim that we really are alive inside these shells?
To know our own story, our own history, our own dead and alive parts is to engage the world.
This Lenten season may be more about finding our aliveness in our smallness.
Jesus gathered his closest friends in the days leading to his death, and he made sure they knew his story- a mysterious one, but full of his heart and his flesh, nonetheless.
For this Lenten season, let’s ask what light has gone out of us.
Let’s find the broken connections, and decide what must be mended for us to feel whole.
If you need to be reminded that you are small, hike into the mountains around you and feel the towering trees say, “We’ve seen it all.”
And if you need to discover your worth, that your soul is capable of growth and wisdom and new life, let it happen.
If we are being asking to let something go, to let our souls freely walk, freely run, freely speak, we might just find healing.
Let the adventure consume you,
and let it start in these forty days of Lent,
when we wait for death to ultimately bring life back to all the worst and best parts of our humanity.
Into your presence we come, Lord,
a few moments of quietness
in a busy world
that demands our attention.
Breathe on us now,
that we might know your presence
and your power
to see this day through.
–Faith and Worship Liturgy