The desert of the North American southwest is an amazing place. Months and months go by without rain, and plants and animals adapt and survive and even thrive. I write from Arizona, where it rained all day yesterday, and so I was greeted this morning with the amazing smell of the desert after the rain. This very distinct smell comes from the creosote bush. It’s almost as if the plants come alive with the rain. Their leaves absorb the moisture, releasing oils that make this smell of desert rain. The creosote bush is incredible, more drought tolerant than any plant in North America. In the Mojave Desert, there’s a cluster (the plants clone and often end up in a ring pattern) that’s thought to be over 11,000 years old. They survive in the desert where other plants would never try, facing the southeast to greet the morning sun, and providing shelter and food for desert creatures.

I’m not going for a hike in the desert wilderness today, I’m drinking coffee and getting some work done. But, the sounds of the birds singing, the smell of the creosote, the barks of trees wet and content from the rain, these all seem fitting senses to be experiencing as we start this Lenten season. Knowing that I am surrounded by plants and animals who survive and thrive in wilderness, who have adapted to get through incredible droughts, who greet the morning sun, who’ve evolved as part of an ecosystem that protects and nurtures each other: this gives me hope – for all of creation.

Wilderness – literal and figurative – is part of all of our lives, our kids’ lives, too. Throughout Lent, Pastor Becky is exploring how this wilderness can be a place for us to encounter God, build community, find peace, and find hope. Throughout Lent, we can explore with our families where it is that we see God in this world, where it is that we can be God’s hand in this world, where it is that we can build community, make peace, and inspire hope. And, like the desert after a rain, we can be transformed by the water of life.

At Minnehaha in March, our regular weekly program continues. Join us on Sunday mornings for worship and faith formation, on Wednesday evenings for dinner and programming, and Thursday mornings for our Minnehaha Playgroup for children five and under and their caregivers. The last week of March is Holy Week. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will find more details about the week. It begins with Palm Sunday, but we also have special services on Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday before celebrating Easter (on April Fools’ Day this year!) All of these services are great things to attend with families – we participate in rituals and hear the story of Easter, and can celebrate as a community the incredible power of love in transforming the world. We hope you’ll join us.

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