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March 25th

We are just about halfway through Lent.  But God’s garden is just starting to bloom.  On a gray Friday, it is easy to long for Easter and resurrection.  As we mourn the deaths of those we love, our hearts turn to God’s promises of life eternal.  Baptism and water are very important to our faith—it is where we begin with God.  The birth of a baby is wet and so is our “birth” as children of God.  The Bible is full of water stories.  This Sunday we will meet the woman at the well.  John records this conversation at a community gathering place—Jacob’s well.  The Samaritan woman and Jesus experience community in spite of their differences. 

I want some of that Living Water, too.  We are invited to drink deeply and to share with others.  There is water enough for all the world. 

I offer here a portion of the Women of the ELCA “Water Prayers.”

Gracious God, you have called us into a community of faith.  We are called to life by you and to sustain life with you, the source of life and creator of every being.  We pray for those who struggle every day for their daily supply of water: in the slums of Brazilian cities, in the deserts of Africa, in the townships where clean water does not flow.  We pray for those who experience floods and for others in desperate need of water.  We pray that those who are fortunate to have an abundance of water do not take your gift for granted, or fail to heed and understand the cries of people who need water for life.  Amen.  *Especially today let us pray for those recovering from too much water in Australia and Japan.  Amen and Amen.


March 24th

Thanks be to God!  The first little green sprouts have appeared in the peat pots, planted on Sunday, March 13.  The tomatoes are tiny little seeds and their sprouts are not much bigger.  The squash have not yet made an appearance.

We moved the seeds to a sunnier window!  Was it more sun or just the right number of days that made the difference?  We don’t know.  I am just relived to have something to show the children on Sunday!

Patience is a virtue that not all of us want to acquire.  A friend who endured much illness this winter says, “Never pray for patience!”  She says the lessons to learn patience are much too difficult.

Patience is the result of purposeful waiting.  And to learn patience our waiting must finally be rewarded, otherwise we just give up and become bitter.  Prayer is purposeful waiting and like Jesus we pray best when we include the words, “Thy will be done.”  Prayer is not always about the answer we wanted—sometimes God uses our prayers to mold us into the people who will pray another kind of prayer.  Thank you God for answers I can live with and answers that invite me to change my life.  But today, thank you especially for your gift of growth in those tiny tomatoes and in the lives of your children (of all ages) here at Trinity Lutheran Church in Everett.  Amen.


March 23rd

I am still thinking about daily bread.  In the Small Catechism Martin Luther described it as “the necessities and nourishment for our bodies such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”  This is a pretty thorough list of what we might need for life.  Farms and fields are included—we need them for life whether we own them or not.  My guess is that in Luther’s time most people owned some livestock and grew some of their own food or they had servants who did that for them. 

When we get all of our food from the grocery store we run the risk of forgetting that there are fields and farmers involved in our food.  We forget those who pick the food, those who process the food, those who drive the food to our stores and those who labor to stock and sell us the food in the store.  “Instant” meals and “Fast Food” still have their beginnings in a field somewhere. 

Today we give thanks for all of the people who are part of our own personal “food chain.”  I especially appreciate those who cook and serve and wash dishes in restaurants so that I can eat a meal and have my only responsibility be to pay the proper amount of “money”—one of those things on Martin Luther’s list.  I also give thanks for all the people with whom I get to share food!  Eating together brings us closer.  Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed.  Amen.


March 22nd

Last night when I got home from an evening meeting, my coat was so wet from walking across the parking lot that Dave hung it in the laundry room to dry rather than put it in the closet.  Wet weather is an inconvenience for some of us, but for farmers and gardeners too much water is as bad as not enough water.  Agriculture has been described as the biggest gamble of all.  We who grow food are dependent on the whims of weather—I know weather doesn’t really have whims but it is alliterative.

My favorite books growing up were the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Those books describe a family in Minnesota and South Dakota trying to survive as farmers in a climate that was very harsh.  The last book of the series is called, “The First Four Years” and in it Laura describes the first four years of her marriage to Alonzo.  Every year their crops failed because of one natural disaster after another.  Through no fault of their own they had to leave the homestead in South Dakota and seek a new way of life. 

Family size farms continue to disappear from our landscape.  We all lose as they disappear because they provide a needed diversity of crops and from them we can learn better stewardship of the land.  As we pray in thanksgiving for our daily bread, we give thanks for farmers who grow the wheat! (and rye, and oats, and flax, et cetera) Amen.

March 21st

Yesterday afternoon it was not raining and so I was able to get my shovel and go out to the garden plot and dig.  I dug up some dead raspberries and lots of weeds.  The soil is spaded and now needs to have some compost raked in and it will be ready to plant.  In the past I have always planted and cared for flowers and I have often had a few cherry tomato plants, raspberries and some herbs, but this is the biggest garden I have ever attempted.  For a while I felt like a kindergartner writing in the “Mother’s Day cookbook”—get a big bowl and mix flour and eggs and cook it for 20 seconds at 600 degrees.  I have this interesting mix of childhood memories of my parents’ gardening, but I am not sure why they always did what they did.

For example—the rows had to be straight.  I mean measured out with a yardstick with someone holding a string so the furrow would be exactly the same distance form the rows on either side.  Did the vegetables care?  And the squash, cucumbers and pumpkins had to planted in hills not rows.  They got to run wild at one end of the garden while all the lettuce, carrots and beets stayed in their careful rows.  By the time I came along my parents had been gardening together for a long time—they knew from experience what worked in their gardens and what did not.

I am thankful for a place to experiment at this stage in my life.  There is forgiveness in God’s garden when the rows aren’t straight—in fact I am learning about square foot gardening where there are no rows at all.  I am excited about actually getting some plants in the ground.  Welcome Spring!  Welcome sun!

March 18th

Stuff has been keeping me inside all day!  Right now it isn’t raining, but it really isn’t warm either.  Yes, I am a fair-weather gardener.  But I keep thinking of all those who have gardened before me.  They inspire me, not just with the huge gardens they had, but also with the creative ways they used the produce.  My parents were busy canning, freezing, baking and always generously sharing the fruits and vegetables of their labors with others.  I had my Dad’s frozen blueberries in the freezer long after he was gone.  It was a sad, but happy last batch of blueberry pancakes. 

The promise of Easter is that life goes on and that we and those we love will be transformed.  Saint Paul in First Corinthians 15 does a great job of helping us to think about resurrection.  I love that he uses seeds and fruits to help us understand the power of God in our lives.

Blessings on your Lenten meditations!


March 17th

I promised to talk about my worms a couple of days ago.  A few of them have survived the cold winter and they have once more begun to turn our vegetable type table waste and some cardboard into fertile worm castings to be used as natural soil enhancers.  The worms are good pets as they do not need to be walked and cleaning up after them is great for the flowers and fruits.  Sadly they do not like to be petted and there friends in the worm box often include spiders and potato bugs.  All in all they have been a great investment of time for us.  They make me feel like I am doing one of those “small steps” that will make our planet-God’s Garden- healthier.  Plans for worm boxes of all sizes are on the internet.  If you would like to visit ours come on by.

I had hoped that more people would add their own thoughts, feelings, memories, hints, failures and successes with gardening on this blog.  This was meant to be conversation not soliloquy.  What’s up with you?

March 16th

I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and finally found the passage for which I had been looking.  It was a quote which gave me hope!  She writes, “Small, stepwise changes in personal habits aren’t trivial.  Ultimately they will, or won’t, add up to having been the thing that mattered.”*  Much of this book made me feel like I could never garden or shop or preserve food as ethically as this family did for a year.  Talk about guilt producing!  But this one sentence reminds me that the only changes that we can sustain in our lives are the small, daily things we do each day.  Whether it is more exercise, eating healthier, reading the Bible or any other habit we wish to learn, we do it in small steps and then the action begins part of our daily life. 

This book describes a family who ate locally for a year, growing their own food, both plant and animal, buying only items produced within 100 miles of their home (except coffee, olive oil, spices), or going without.  This is a huge change from how most of us eat, but I am inspired to make some small steps towards supporting local farmers.  And I am inspired to grow some of my own food, in my own garden.

*Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  Copyright 2007 by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver.  HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.


Sixth Day of Lent

“There in God’s Garden stands the tree of Wisdom, whose leaves hold forth the healing of the nations.”  Kiraly Imre von Pecselyi wrote these words sometimes in the early 1600’s.  Erik Routley translated them into English in 1976,  and in 1987 K. Lee Scott put them to music in hymn #342.  In this brief sentence we are taken from the Garden of Eden through the entire Bible to the book of Revelations. 

The tree of Wisdom which was temptation to Adam and Eve has been transformed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus into life and healing for all nations.  The story of God with us is full of grace from the beginning into eternity. 

Locally the plum trees are starting to bloom; many other trees and bushes have buds swelling with new life.  A few more days of sun and blooms and little green leaves will begin to appear.  Because we also have evergreens in abundance in our yard, I am not sure I always appreciate the emergence of new life every spring.  In this spring reverie about God’s Garden I am committed to paying better attention to all the life forms given to us.  The trees are the biggest and the most noticeable with their bright colors, but I am also on the look out for tiny forms of life as well. 

Tomorrow I will talk about my worms, one of God’s lovely lower forms of life.  Amen.


Fifth Day of Lent

Yesterday was Sunday, and because Sundays do not count in the 40 days of Lent scheme, I did not blog.  What I did do in church yesterday was to help our children plant tomato and squash seeds.  They were not excited about eating squash, but planted them anyway.  We poked the tiny seeds down in the soil in peat pots and then watered them with water from the baptismal font.  I moved the pots to the window sill in my office where it is often sunny.  Now we wait for enough sun to help the seeds sprout.  The question for today, will there be anything for the children to see next Sunday?  Or will the waiting continue? 

Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part of our lives.  Waiting nine months for the birth of a baby is joyous but full of questions.  Waiting while a loved one has surgery is always better if there is another person to wait with you.  Waiting in line to renew a driver’s license or to mail a package can be an opportunity to revel in the variety of humankind God has placed in God’s garden.  Waiting for the death of a loved one is the worst—we wait for the end hoping it will come soon and end the pain, but really we would wait longer if we could because we know that at the end of our waiting there is sorrow that will take its own time to heal.

Today let us pray for all who wait.  We pray for those who wait for babies, for news of loved ones from Japan, for those in surgery and for those on hospice care and their families.  We can also pray for hospice caregivers—volunteers, nurses, chaplains, social workers—as they care for the waiting ones.  Amen.             
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