Learning from The Land: Emerging from Ashes
As this lesson pulls into view I am firmly in the grip of Lent and this theme of Emerging.
I’m driving back to Colorado from two weeks in Iowa with my dad. His life energy is fading. What is emerging for him is surrender. Not something he’s ever been good at or fond of. What’s emerging for me is a deepened appreciation of who my dad is and who he has been, to me and others in his long life.
Dad has loved learning about The Land and he was so pleased to talk to Pastor Stephanie when she called last week. And now, driving by myself back across the great expanses of Nebraska and NE Colorado, I’m thinking about The Land—all the good people and all the beautiful, mostly native, spring life that is preparing to emerge once again from the swaths of untrammeled soil. All of this—Dad, Lent, Spring, The Land, has me stirred up, kind of raw and awake and encountering some truths- in a good way.
The truth at the core of this lesson begins with the fact that I am a fan of Lent. The truest part of Lent for me is that it is our typically very-busy-doing tradition’s annual affirmation of contemplation—by that I mean the actual year-round practice of contemplative meditation– the deliberate tending of the sacred soil of our souls— like Jesus taught and practiced, which most of his followers seemed to have missed right up to and now a good 2000 years past his death. The cultivation of the non-dual, non-linear, non-ego-ridden consciousness and experience of our very place in the Christ—in the holy unity of Creation. Holy emptying we might call it.
But in this very particular Lenten season 2021—in the midst of the most important turning point for this planet since the last mass extinction, the Land herself joins with all of creation and begs us to sit at her feet in meditation. Simply being present in her presence. Humbly. Letting go— of who we think we are and what we need to accomplish. To not simply pick up where we left off, business as usual. Yep. Most of us miss that invitation most of the time. I know I do. But here it is again, with even more urgency—the Lent Emptying Challenge.
It seems so very true, in this pandemic Lent season, that our whole species is being called to reset, to unthink and undo, for a long moment, before we rethink or redo. To sit at the feet of creation as we find it, and place ourselves squarely in it, not above it or outside of it, in order to really listen for how we can care for it. This is certainly nothing much like church as we know it. No churchiness required. More like taking off the sandals on holy ground and fully expecting to encounter the ever-present, eternally burning bush that is always ready to appear to those who long to behold it. And at that point, we will want to be prepared to receive humbling, awesome lessons in how we become even more the Land’s people, and whereby she is less and less just some people’s land. Kind of a radical Lenten invitation, yes? Amen