Contributed by Board Member, The Rev. Dr. Richard Bardusch
Lent is an old Anglo-Saxon word that means spring. While Lent overlaps spring in time, there is a deeper connection between the church season of Lent and the planting season of spring. Lent is about tilling the ground of our spiritual lives so that we can experience the new life of the Resurrection of Jesus. Lent is the time when we prepare our hearts to be sown with God’s love and Jesus’ new life.
Like the ground after winter, our hearts become hard over time and each year we need to break up that hardness so that like the ground they are prepared to receive the seeds of new life. Just as the plants thrive in tilled soil so to the seeds of God’s love thrive in a spirit that is broken and tilled.
As Americans we don’t like to have our world dug up. We like our patterns to be the same and predictable, but as Christians we are called to disciplines in Lent of preparation. Some of us give up bad habits, while others of us take on good ones. Whether we give up or take on is not the question. They are both acts of preparation designed to till our hearts for the planting of God’s word and mighty deeds in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
How is God calling you to till your spirits? What do you need to give up or take on to prepare to receive God’s seeds of love? To till our hearts is the call of Lent.
Submitted by board member The Rev. Philip Hardwick
Walking is, apparently, the new running. I do not know if you all have heard this as well, and it may be news that comes as a surprise to those of you who are avid runners. But lately there has been an influx of information comparing the benefits of walking and running on a person’s overall health and, as it turns out, walking has far more physical rewards than we initially realized.
It also benefits our minds by increasing productivity and creativity. In studies of older adults, those who walked regularly were able to significantly increase the volume of their hippocampus, the portion of the brain involved with memory. And Harvard Medical School published a report stating that the positive effects of the endorphins released when walking last longer than those of the anti-depressants that now one in ten Americans regularly take.
Walking is also good for the soul, as so many of the world’s religions will attest. One of the five pillars of Islam is the hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, in which pilgrims walk seven times around the ancient Ka’ba in the center courtyard of the Great Mosque. Buddhist pilgrims walk their own their sacred journey to Bodh Gaya in India or Mount Kailash in Tibet. Jesus walked practically everywhere he went, but the most notable were the steps he took during the last hours of his life, when he walked from Pilate’s headquarters to the hill at Golgotha, along a street located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Today Christians walk this same route known as the Via Dolorosa—some of them walking while carrying crosses, while others walk it on their knees.
Body, mind, spirit. For whatever ails us, whatever it is we seek, it seems as though the first step is to literally take a step and begin to walk. Try it.