Forest Fires, Ashes, and Lent

Lent- an Old English term for Spring.

lent 1

It begins this Wednesday when we don the ashes.  Our priests will smear the crosses on our heads, and we will admit to the dust we shall return to one day. Dirt and dust can be messy things, but they are also the ground for new growth.

In the spring following a forest fire, trees that survived the blaze explode in new growth and plants sprout in abundance from the scorched earth. For centuries, it was a mystery how seeds, some long dormant in the soil,

knew to push through the ashes to regenerate the burned forest.

When forest fires leave char and ash in their wake, scientists have discovered that special chemicals known as karrikins are created as trees and shrubs burn and they remain in the soil after the fire, ensuring the forest will regenerate.  Decades ago when Yellowstone National Park was allowed to burn it forests for the first time, many people felt that it would never be restored to its former beauty, But by the following spring, when the rains arrived, there was a burst of flowering plants amid the nutrient-rich ash and charred ground.

Fireweed Fisheye

Lent. A springtime of new life from devastation.

 “Repent and believe in the Gospel” .

  Forests will be consumed in the fire of His love,

His Word will be sown in the ash that remains. 

These mysterious seed will regenerate us as Easter graces rain down.

Interestingly we burn the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday, to provide the ashes Lent.

Forest fires, ashes, and Lent.

Earth, fire, and ash are messy things God can use to make something beautiful.

What an earthy religion!  God made us out of the clay of the earth,  Old Testament folks sat in sackcloth and ashes. Our Savior healed blindness with earth and spit. And ashes on foreheads mark the beginning of  Lent.

Maybe the key this Lent will be to remember the fire from which they came.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

 Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Blessed Lent!

Will You Be Mine? A TOB Perspective

Seems like a harmless question.  We’ve heard it year after year on Valentine’s Day.  It’s been stamped on those little candy hearts, and stamped in our first memories of trading Valentine cards with the cartoon or movie characters on them.

As we age, things tend to take on deeper meaning if we are the pondering type.

That’s me- on both counts-  the aging and the pondering.

In our culture today the question can conjure up feelings of possessiveness and stalking.  What do you mean

“Will you be mine?”  I don’t belong to anyone.  Or do I?

Years of studying the Theology of the Body has shifted my perspective a bit.  The fact is I do belong to Someone.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.  (1 Cor 6: 18-20)

What is it about this word belonging that scares us so?  It so “smacks” of commitment, and some sort of lack of freedom.

We buy things that belong to us, but people don’t belong to people….or do they?

 Before we crush those candy hearts, lets take a look at how sweet they might be.

Perhaps there’s a misguided understanding of real love.

 That kind of love that is freely given, says I am totally yours forever, and desires with all the heart to be faithful.

 The kind of love that wants to make more love abound in the world.

If I believe Scripture is the Word of God, that He is indeed speaking, then I need to meet this passage head on.

 I am not my own.

 I have been given the gift of life as a free gift from my Creator.  My body- gift holds within its very heart, the intense giving and receiving of love that is the Holy Trinity.

 If I am honest enough to acknowledge it, there’s literally a fire raging within me, that longs for one thing- union with God.

His Sacred Heart (not some sugar coated candy one) was stamped with a spear thrust so that I could have a way to enter and one with Him.

 I was purchased at this high and supernatural price.

Yep, I think I belong to Him.

 I can believe and receive that Truth, because the One that I belong to made me for Himself,

and only wants to possess me fully because He wants to embrace me in love.

 The least I can do is try to glorify Him in this body.

And the marked sign of that kind of love commitment here on earth is marriage.

 It has taken much time and prayer for me to get comfortable with it, but today, after almost 30 years of marriage,

I can say that I am wholly free in my belonging to my husband.

 His journey is mine, and mine his.  We hold each other’s lives in our hearts.  With all true love comes great responsibility, so neither of us takes this lightly.  Each day we begin again, pick ourselves up from the falls, and embrace again.

And interestingly enough, the trials that most test our love, only serve to increase the longing for belonging.

So, today, I’m alright with the question….and can answer with bold conviction.

Will you be mine?  YES!