Lenten Reflection by Cheryl TenWolde

Staying Green in a Season of Purple

I have an ear-worm that simply will not go away – the words of a hymn sung back in the Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols are still replaying over and over in my head: “The Tree of Life my soul has seen, laden with fruit and always green. The trees of nature fruitless be, compared with Christ the apple tree.” (Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree, from a collection of Joshua Smith, New Hampshire 1784)

Viewing my favorite apple tree from the kitchen window now I see no fruit and nothing green. The dry, gnarly form silhouetted against the winter sky seems more dead than alive. It reminds me of the wilderness where Jesus spent 40 days pre-paring for his mission after his baptism. So, for us, the season of Lent is meant to prepare us for Easter. We can use this time to yield some spiritual fruit.

Lenten 3 R’s may help: 1. Repent. Reset our GPS and turn in another direction. Change our minds and the direction of our thoughts. The practices of fasting and self-denial are ways we can honor our Lord. “The happiness I long have sought and pleasure dearly I have bought; I missed of all, but now I see, it’s found in Christ, the apple tree.” 2. Reflect on the words of scripture, spiritual book, art, or nature. “His beauty doth all things excel, by faith I know but ne’er can tell the glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ the apple tree.” 3. Refresh our spiritual lives by adding some new devotions or habits. It is said that a habit takes 21 days to form. In Lent, we have 40 days plus Sundays to grow in following the Way of Jesus. “I’m weary with my former toil. Here I will sit and rest awhile. Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ the apple tree.”

The ear-worm drew me to my bookcase to reread Donnel O’Flynn’s Holy Cross, Life-Giving Tree as the beginning of my Lenten meditations. I look forward to hearing your ideas! Stay green!

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