Wild Lectionary: From the Heavens and Earth

First Sunday after Christmas C
Psalm 148

By Laurel Dykstra

Salal + Cedar is the church that hosts and curates Wild Lectionary. We are in the middle of our fourth year as a community and this post marks the two-year anniversary of Wild Lectionary. Psalm 148, the praise hymn of all creation, is read every year on the first Sunday after Christmas and for Salal + Cedar it is an opportunity to reflect on the previous year. In 2018 we worked on restoring wildlife habitat on a trout and salmon stream, ran an environmental justice camp for youth, helped to midwife some emerging Wild Church projects, and continued in our resistance to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host! Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: From the Heavens and Earth”

Beautiful Darkness

48274981_10160262108808125_7399097197708443648_nCaitlin: During the season of Advent, I have a really hard time with how we talk about darkness, equating it with sin and evil, as though darkness isn’t created by and beloved of God. Especially because of how this is used to support white supremacy. So, I am going to be sharing some reflections on how great darkness is during Advent. Feel free to add your favourite things about darkness or how you embrace it this time of year.

Advent is a season of darkness. In the darkness of night your nocturnal creation awakes. In the darkness of winter we see your creation without the harsh light of the Sun. Give us new eyes to see this world in all its beauty. Continue reading “Beautiful Darkness”

Wild Lectionary: Planted and Watered

Author with Forest School Students

Easter 7(B)
Psalm 1

By Laurel Dykstra

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

The image of large well-watered trees growing larger is used in scripture as a symbol of human prosperity, abundance, and flourishing for individuals (Psalm 92:12-13) and nations (Ezekiel 31). Often the type of tree is unnamed but a significant number are cedars. In an arid landscape shade as a luxury, an association amplified by the biblical equation of cedar wood with wealth. Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Planted and Watered”

Wild Lectionary: Wonder and the True Easter Lily

skunk_cabbage.jpgEaster, Year B
Acts 10:34-43
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
John 20:1-18
Mark 16:1-8

By Jessica Miller

Across the northeast of North America at this season, a wonder is happening. The flowers of Symplocarpus foetidus have begun emerging and blooming from swamps and wet places. These true Easter-lilies—members of the same family of the Calla ‘lily’—are more commonly known as skunk-cabbage. Varieties of the plant also grow in Japan, where the red robe-like blossoms resembling a monk’s hood have gained it the name Zazen-sou, or Zen meditation plant.

Continue reading “Wild Lectionary: Wonder and the True Easter Lily”

40 Birds of Lent: Final Count

Laurel1By Laurel Dykstra

While the word Lent comes from Middle English, quadragesima, the Latin word for the season means fortieth referring to the fortieth day before Easter. And while this resonates with a host of biblical wilderness forties—the 40 days of the flood, the Hebrew’s 40 year sojourn in the desert, Moses’ 40 days on Sinai, Elijah’s 40 day journey to Mt. Horeb, Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness—the actual number of days doesn’t quite add up, so different traditions have different metrics, (don’t count Sundays, Lent ends on Maundy Thursday) in order to get to 40. I love the biblical associations but the 40 Birds of Lent involved some cheating to make the numbers come out right.
Continue reading “40 Birds of Lent: Final Count”

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 “40 Birds of Lent: Nesting Season”

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 “Wild Lectionary: Purge Me with Hyssop”

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: Water”

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 “40 Birds of Lent: A Siege of Herons”

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: Observe”