[Along with the Wilderness Way Community and its friends, Pastor Solveig Nilsen-Goodin’s Lenten discipline is to spend 10-20 minutes OUTSIDE, every day for 40 days in prayer/meditation/just being (rain or shine)! What follows is her reflection on her practice of this discipline from Ash Wednesday.]
I went out barefoot today. A little cold, yes, but truth be told, I didn’t really notice. I did notice, however, how mindfully I walked without the protection of shoes. Could I try walking as mindfully with shoes on?
I walked around my house and settled in the back yard. We have two little boys and, honestly, keeping the back yard pristine is pretty low on the priority list. But here’s what I saw: plastic. Plastic play structure. Plastic balls. Plastic toys. The ubiquitous white plastic chairs. What about the majestic fir tree presiding over the house? Or the branches of the dogwood tree that hang gracefully over the fence? Or even the cedar fence? Nope. Plastic. My backyard: a microcosm of our precious planet.
But amidst the sea of plastic there was, miraculously, a clear space. And there I made an altar. A circle of fir cones with a cross in the middle, which I made with my finger. I then made the sign of the cross on my forehead with my dirt-covered finger. “I am dust and to dust I shall return.” Not just any dust, I am THIS dust. THIS dirt. THIS rocky soil deposited by the Missoula floods about 15,000 years ago. And to THIS dust I shall return. I suddenly felt that this was holy ground.
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