09 May 2012

Eastertide guest post - An Eastertide Garden

This week's guest is "Featherglen", one of the early participants in our Lenten link-up. She and her husband both work as members of the L'Arche community in Inverness. Her sidebar list of topics shows her major concerns to be her faith, her family, handicrafts, and the L'Arche Community. Featherglen's life sounds very romantic - living in the Scottish Highlands, married to a French jeweller and gardener, members of an international movement building faith-based communities with people with learning disabilities, supporting them to reach their full potential... yet her writing is honest and down-to-earth.

As a mother, member of a L'Arche Community and a church, Lent can, ironically, turn into a very full time. Although this is usually in a good way, by the time Easter has arrived and been celebrated in various ways, I'm ready for a break. However, despite not growing up in a liturgical tradition, I have grown to appreciate many aspects of such a way of worship, Bible reading, and the sense of celebrations in their appropriate times. This is sometimes also very helpful for the adults with learning disabilities that  are at the heart of L'Arche. Advent and Lent are two very important times of the year for us and we take time to deepen our relationship with God during them. I came across Godly Play when looking for ways to share the biblical story creatively, and it seemed to be instinctively right for us. One story I love in Godly Play is the Circle of the Church Year and as a family we have been very struck that 'You can't keep Easter to just one Sunday, so it keeps on for six more weeks'. I find it very liberating knowing that there's no hurry to celebrate Easter - we have all the time we need!

all photos by Featherglen, please do not re-use without her permission

 In our family we made a 'Lent garden' - a large plate filled with sand and a bare branch, along with a wooden figure of Jesus, representing his time in the wilderness. It sat on our kitchen table and we added a stone each day at dinner time. By Palm Sunday we lifted out the stones, added some soil, then replaced the stones into a path to the bare branch. We sowed some wheatgrass seeds and made a tomb from clay, giving it time to dry out. A cross was added on Good Friday.

On Easter Saturday we added in a another tray of soil for the tomb to sit on, along with a big rock (the wooden figure was placed inside). We sowed some more seeds and added jars and vases of green branches and flowers, as well as Easter candles and some animal figures.

It was all ready and beautiful for Easter Sunday breakfast, with the stone rolled away, the candles lit and Jesus was once more in the beauty of the garden, now transformed from rock and soil, a living image that 'a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies'.

But this year, instead of keeping it for a week or so as usual, I decided we should try keeping it for the whole of Eastertide. It seems like a simple focus, without too much extra effort, to remind us of the Resurrection. We moved onto a table in our living room, covered with oilcloth. Each week we water it, snip the grass (my son likes this bit) - and feed it to the guinea pig (who is very appreciative!). We gather fresh flowers and leaves. It has been lovely to see a whole range of spring flowers this way and I have been surprised by how well my two boys arrange them. I have a book ( The story of Jesus by Andrea Skevington - I recommend it!) with some good artwork, propped up behind it. From time to time we read the stories of the resurrection, and we have added another figure to the garden - perhaps it is Mary?

I have made Easter gardens before, but this year, having one that stretches all the way from Lent through to the end of Eastertide, is a new expression of our journey with Jesus, that has a nod to Godly Play and a connection with the spring world around us.

Featherglen's written a second post for Sheila and me as well, which will be posted tomorrow. This next post is about the Road to Emmaus.  

1 comment:

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