Lent is the time in the Christian calendar when people of faith prepare for Easter, when all creation celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day when we remember our limitations as human beings. Traditionally, Christians of many varieties receive a cross made of ashes on their foreheads, with the words, “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
These words harken back to the story of creation in Genesis, where God creates humanity out of the earth. The Hebrew word for earth (adama) used in the story of humanity’s beginning is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible to mean the arable land we’re meant to cultivate and farm. And so, our beginning is from the fertile topsoil of the earth… and someday we will again return to that soil.
That imagery feels especially relevant to our place on the South Coast, where farmworkers and farmers spend their days working the topsoil, preparing the ground and the food and flowers that grow from it for the people who will enjoy the harvest. Our time together is bound by the work of caring for the earth; Puente’s programs are designed around—and are necessary because of—the grueling nature of farming. We live in a world that sees a strawberry or artichoke or nasturtium as an object, and not the end product of hours of toil, weeks of nurture, and the scientific mystery of anything that grows from the ground. A strawberry or artichoke or nasturtium are each extraordinary in their existence. In the South Coast, the journey of these wonderful fruits often starts on the other side of our south border.
This late winter, we observe Lent in the midst of an El Niño season, when the rain is breaking through years of drought. The rain joins the sweat and labor of the hands that tend the fields as we all prepare for Easter—the resurrection of something new—and spring.
In this season of Lent, please pray with and for our community with our Lenten Puente resource. My deep thanks to ELCA Deacon Candidate Amy Westphal who spent time in the summer of 2015 preparing the outline of this resource I share with you.
And remember that no matter what season we’re in, our doors are always open to you and to all. May all strangers find themselves welcome at Puente, until all are welcome everywhere.
Blessings and peace,
Rev. Abby Mohaupt, for the Puente Team