On Tuesday the frogs began singing in our pond and a chorus of birds, just returned to our island, began calling out to each others from nearby trees.
I’m still grabbing my jacket on my way out the door, but the bright sun and blue skies all remind me that the season is changing and spring is arriving on Whidbey Island.
A trip to my garden clearly reveals what is needed after months of wind and rain and relative darkness: It’s time to clear out the debris and prepare the soil for planting.
I didn’t grow up wanting to put my hands in the dirt. My parents weren’t gardeners and the moderate climate of Southern California graced my childhood neighborhood with flowers year round whether we planted them or not.
It wasn’t until I moved to Whidbey and experienced the damp, dark winters of the Pacific Northwest that I understood a growing need to place plants and seeds into the ground and watch their miraculous growth.
These springtime hints also signal to me and others who follow a church calendar that it is the season of Lent, the Christian season of preparation before Easter.
In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the start of 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting and moderation. Some take on new projects or studies.
The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Christ — His suffering and sacrifice as well as His life, death, burial and resurrection.
Oak Harbor residents Dan and Jane Ritter are longtime members of St. Augustine Catholic Church.
Lent is always a special time for them and includes moderate fasting, usually in the form of avoiding meat on Fridays.
The money they save from not purchasing meat on those days, as well as other dietary changes they choose, is placed in a cardboard “rice bowl” that parishioners are given at the start of the season.
The rice bowl offering goes directly to the church’s efforts to feed those needing food and will be presented during a Holy Thursday service, a couple of days prior to Easter Sunday.
The Ritters have filled many rice bowls over the years and say it is a very special tradition that holds great meaning for them.
Most Whidbey Presbyterian Church members meet in small “life” groups each week during the year. During Lent 2014 these groups are taking an in-depth look at forgiveness by studying Marjorie Thompson’s book, “Forgiveness: A Lenten Study.” Copies can be ordered at His Place Christian Bookstore on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
Other Islanders are making time for reflection by visiting Biola University’s “The Lenten Project” online at http://ccca.biola.edu/lent.
Utilizing art, music, scripture and prayer, the daily topics are presented that they may deepen your Lenten experience and be enjoyed and shared by all who long to understand all that Christ claims to be for our modern world.
Joan Bay Klope can be reached at email@example.com.