Monday, February 23, 2009

Message in the Masthead

The plant is datura. The harsh, stressed look conveys the back end of winter here and also the austerity of Lent, which begins this week.

There's a Lenten message in this plant. From the Wikipedia link:

Datura intoxication typically produces ... a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (frank delirium, as contrasted to hallucination)... bizarre, and possibly violent behavior... painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect.

Aren't these symptoms with which we struggle during Lent?
  • + We try to step out of the deceptions of the world, the flesh and the devil - all the "fantasy and delirium" in which we wander each day. We turn to walk the narrow, difficult but life-giving way of Christ.
  • + We try to mitigate our own eccentric and hurtful ways and express more love for others. The Book of Common Prayer 1928 offered I Corinthians 13, the Bible's great treatise on love, on the last Sunday before Lent.
  • + We try to come out of spiritual darkness ("photophobia" literally means "fear of light") and come into the truth of Christ. Yesterday's Gospel (Revised Common Lectionary), from Mark 9, presented Christ in dazzling light, and this morning's readings included the awesome prologue of John's Gospel, announcing Jesus as "the light that gives live."
  • + We try to recover from our spiritual amnesia and live in greater awareness of our identity as God's own people. Another of this morning's lessons, from Deuteronomy 6, warns us to "be careful not to forget the LORD."

The effects of datura ingestion, now recognized as maladies, were once valued as "visions" in pagan religious use. May a holy Lent purge us of such lies that deceive and sicken our souls. Just as withered weeds are crushed without a thought, so "may the God of peace soon crush Satan under your feet" and "The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you" (Romans 16:20).

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