40 Birds of Lent: Nesting Season

Nest2By Laurel Dykstra

Lente in Middle English means springtime, which means a kind of lovely irony is built into Lent, at least where I live on Coast Salish Territory. The church’s season of fasting and austerity falls during nesting season so while we smear our heads with ashes and forswear chocolate, facebook, and alcohol, our feathered friends are setting up housekeeping and getting it on. The bird songs of spring are about defending territory and announcing sexual availability. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Purge Me with Hyssop

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 8.43.44 PMLent 5B
Psalm 51:7b

By Laurel Dykstra

The psalmist says “purge me with hyssop” –clean me with a scrubby aromatic plant.

Mediterranean Hyssop— Hyssopus officinalis is a pungent-leafed bush with blue flowers that is used medicinally, mostly in teas as an expectorant, antiseptic and for cough relief. But the qualities that the bible ascribes to Hyssop: it grows in walls, can hold moisture, has a long, stiff stalk, has a purgative effect, appear in no one plant. Other suggested candidates for biblical Hyssop include caper, Syrian oregano, and za’atar a word which Palestinians use for a family of aromatic herbs (and the ubiquitous condiment made from their dried leaves). Continue reading

40 Birds of Lent: Water

Barrows Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneye

By Laurel Dykstra

I woke up this morning humming:

Water heals our bodies
Water heals our souls
When we go down, down to the water
In the water we are whole.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

The song I learned in water ceremonies at Standing Rock, is the chorus of Coco Love Alcorn’s song The River. It’s not so surprising that these were the words in my head as I spent the better part of yesterday morning singing them outside the gates of Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal—the intended shoreline destination for transferring Tar Sands bitumen from the proposed Trans-mountain expansion pipeline project to ocean-going tankers. Beside the water of the Burrard Inlet on unceded Coast Salish Territory we sang as trees were limbed and cut in anticipation of a tunnel through the mountain. Continue reading

40 Birds of Lent: A Siege of Herons

DoveBy Laurel Dykstra

I was beyond excited to discover that the Aberdeen Bestiary (right) has been digitized and is available online. In recent years there has been, among a certain set, a revival of Herbals—illustrated volumes for the identification and medicinal use of plants, with an emphasis on women’s and Indigenous knowledge traditions. But the faunal analog, the Bestiary has seen no parallel resurgence. Composed in medieval monasteries, these often anecdotal sometimes allegorical, encyclopedias of animals were the height of scientific

Rock Dove

Rock Dove

learning. Perhaps such “facts” as weasels giving birth through the mouth, deer eating poisonous snakes as a restorative, and the dove’s eye color indicating their maturity and discernment, dissuade modern would-be champions of the genera. Continue reading

The 40 Birds of Lent: Observe

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

By Laurel Dykstra

Observe a holy Lent—the prayerbook enjoins, then spells it out with this austere prescription: self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and reading and meditating on the word of God.

I am someone with a Lenten disposition. My own natural reserve, saying “no” for its own sake, and avoiding extravagance, were honed by my family and by my participation in certain discipleship traditions. Whatever the liturgical season, I engage in above average quantities of penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and no shortage of (critical) self-examination. But there are places where rigor can’t take you, and the 40 Birds of Lent is one of those places. Continue reading

The 40 Birds of Lent

Eagle WMMBy Laurel Dykstra

Several years ago I participated in the Wilderness Way Community’s Lenten challenge: to spend 10 minutes each day outdoors in prayer or meditation. Due both to my own inclination and the fact that Lent falls where I live during spring migration, mating and nesting season, this experience, which I described to others as “going outside and paying attention,” quickly turned into going outside and paying attention to birds. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Let All Creation Praise

Wild Lectionary: Let All Creation Praise

Christmas 1B
Psalm 148

By Laurel Dykstra

The first Sunday after Christmas with the annual reading of Psalm 148, marks Wild Lectionary’s first anniversary: 51 blog posts, from diverse watersheds, reflecting on land, creation and indigenous justice themes from the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary. Continue reading