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!


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