Lent 2020


Reflection for Thursday: The Thursday After Ash Wednesday

STM Simply final_300Three glass canning jars hang in my kitchen windows. Each is filled with soil and suspended from the top of the window frame by thick, blue yarn. Two have basil plants in them. The third contains a chocolate mint plant I have tended to for the past decade.

This chocolate mint plant often spices the daily rhythms of my life. In the late spring and summer, it spreads its brownish-red tendrils out and down the jar, ready to be snipped off for gin and tonics, iced teas and, in particularly fecund years, homemade ice cream. By September, its green leaves are steeping in hot water and often served in teacups with a little almond milk—sometimes in the solitude of a quiet morning spent alone, sometimes in the lively company of a full dinner party…or, during a particularly rowdy and thought-provoking evening at book club.

But, each November its leaves shrivel from supple and green to black and brittle. It is then that I take it down from its yarn hanger and cut it back, leaving an inch of twigs above the surface of the soil: a seeming surrender to the stark cold and ice of the upcoming New Haven winter. And yet—if I tip the jar at an angle and look an inch below the soil line, I can see the herb’s knotty runners, still green, still holding the potential for, and reality of, growth. Life is present but lived on a different plane.

By the second week of February, the chocolate mint’s stems green and rise above the twigs. Its leaves again begin to grow. Once more, its tendrils spill over the lip of the glass canning jar and make their way down its sides.  

My chocolate mint yields its leaves in due season—but, to continue its life every February, it must lose it every November, surrendering to the quiet of the soil. Like these thirty-nine-odd days ahead of us, it is a surrender that leads to a tumbling vitality. A tumbling, growing, greening vitality that makes the ordinary rhythms of life extraordinary. Life present—and once more—lived on a different plane.  

Sarah Woodford '10 M.Div.

Sarah Woodford '10 M.Div.

Sarah is the Director of The Vincent Library at STM.