We come from the earth

event_note March 2, 2022

And we return to the earth

A home observance for Covid
Lent (from the Old English word for Spring) is the season when the church prepares for Easter; it is a time of solemn anticipation and getting our hearts ready. During this Covid pandemic many of us have already given up a great deal, so our shared practice at Salal + Cedar will be to cultivate noticing and wonder. You have received a container of blessed ashes, as you take time to prepare for this season, alone or with members of your bubble, make use of those prayers, readings, and actions below which speak to you.

Creating God, who loves us and made us and called us good. We know that we do harm to ourselves, to one another, and to this good earth by our choices, our mistakes, and our participation in systems. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we turn from harm, acknowledging our brokenness, and return to your love and right relation. In the name of your child Jesus, who greeted the friends who denied and betrayed him saying “peace.” Amen

A Reading from Isaiah 58
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
   and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
   and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
   will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
   a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
   and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
   a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
   the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
   you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

Ash Wednesday -by Jan Richardson
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.
excerpted from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

We begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes, an ancient element speaking of the transforming power of fire and the fragility and the cycles of human life. This year we of Salal + Cedar, who pray for climate justice, will mark our foreheads with ashes from a tree burned in the Lytton fire collected in prayer by community members Melanie and Erin who were made homeless by this human-caused disaster. They collected ash from a place early settlers called the “breadbasket of the Nlaka’pamux Nation” a place where Erin brings people to get connected and grounded to do their grieving work. Take a moment holding or sitting before the container of ashes or earth that you have gathered, consider and let go of whatever you need to release, that keeps you from wholeness.  
When you are ready, use the ashes to mark your own forehead or your companions’ with a cross saying one of the following:
You are/I am dust and to dust you/I will return. or
You are of the land and will return to the land. or
Your are earth and to the earth you will return.

You are invited to observe a holy Lent, to prepare your heart for wonder by the traditional practices of self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God in scripture and in nature. While we repent of our part in this climate crisis and the harm to creation you are also invited to hold yourself gently as a beloved creature of the Holy One’s making.