Botanist and author, Hope Jahren shares in her book Lab Girl that “a seed knows how to wait.”

Buried deep in the dirt of creation, seeds wait for the hopeful moment that feels most useful to grow.

This truth of seeds being patient, feeling the ground of which they’ll soon grow from and return feels like a great entry point for this Lenten season.

What truths will our seeds be patient for this season?

It’s a trigger-combination of temperature-moisture-light, Jahren shares, that causes these patiently alive seeds to grow and I couldn’t help but think of how during this wilderness, valley like season how many of us – me, certainly – need to have our growth provoked by warmth, water, and light.

How can I nourish my body, spirit, and mind for the venture?

The answer arrived inside a funeral home on Ash Wednesday.

My Death, Dying, & Grief class visited a funeral home early in the morning Ash Wednesday. We observed and learned the experience of death from the family to the deceased. We moved room by room in this funeral home observing the reality of from “dust to dust.”

I am still turning over the moment our guide gripped the door handle to the embalming room, turned, and shared, “We leave the lights on here when there’s a body present. We just feel like turning the lights off is disregarding their existence.”

It was a powerful and sacred moment before entering a space where care is given to the bodies of the no longer living. It provoked thought about the physical light we can hold for one another when we are grieving or moving through particularly hard seasons like Lent.

Lent is here and I feel the whelp of its emotion in my body. I’ve been prepping, perhaps, self consciously through all the crying I’ve been doing this semester. I’ve been facing grief I haven’t actually named within spiritual harm and loss of church as I knew it. And it’s been exhausting work to release it. I’m afraid of the judgement of admitting that church space, certain forms of prayer, and language hold so much harm that I can’t participate in “church” in the conventional form. And, I may never really ever be able to.

I experience God in the hawk I see every day, the wind I feel, and the people who hug me.

I am in transition. And I need the light left on because I am indeed still here. Still believing in the communal gathering of living and deceased saints, in the mystic nature of the divine, in God, in Christ, in this thing we call faith.

I will wonder this wilderness naming and asking of myself and those I love how I can leave a light on. How can I hold a candle in the physical and metaphorical sense for my body, my soil tilling, and for us?

I will be wandering the wilderness and I will not be alone. 

May we find hope in our Lenten journeys. May we find ways to be. It is from dust we came and dust we shall return. May we fill our dust with nutrients. May we be as patient as the seeds who know how to wait. The seeds who wait alive and ready to be moved for growth. 

May we leave the light on.

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