Oh, the power of our words. Bad habits can creep in like the dry leaves that blow in the front door, rattling across the floor, accumulating all sneaky-like. We don’t notice, we’re busy doing this, doing that. It’s only when one finds a pile of leaves, or an entrenched habit, that the problem is truly seen for what it is.
I’ve noticed our short fuses and resultant words that cut and sting. The casual put-downs, the snide remarks, the jokes that hurt. When did we let all these leaves in?
I was walking through our local thrift store, trying to find white clothes for our upcoming chrismations/baptisms. There amidst a jumble of Christmas items was a little white metal mailbox, with a sticker on the side of cardinals and a cursive “Merry Christmas!” Fifty cents later, it was mine.
I guess it’s not obvious why I had to have it, but I believe in the power of words, for wounding and healing. Lent is nearly upon us; how can we remember to fast from hurtful speech? Perhaps, just perhaps, by feasting on kind words. Thus, the mailbox.
My children love rituals, traditions, and surprises. They delight in the suspense, the sense that normal time has been suspended, that a special season is upon us that we are compelled to feel, down in our marrow. Could I make kindness, encouragement, and love a tradition; could it help us use this gift all year?
I had to make it easy; who has the time and energy to track down a working pen, nice paper, and so on? I had to make it intentional; it needed a space of its own, right in the heart of the home. I had to make it fun; personalized and anticipatory. My Made In China, cardinal-clad mailbox put the rest into motion.
Folded cards and writing implements at the ready. The cheerful mailbox, sporting a paper sign (sorry, cardinals!), stands ready to receive missives.Using glass gems, a drop of transparent glue (you can use clear silicone too), tiny scrap pieces of paper, and little round magnets, I made these little alert gems to signal when the recipients have mail waiting for them. This protects the privacy of those who are receiving notes as the other children aren’t allowed to look inside the box unless their name is on. He’s got mail!Right beside the writing station is an alms box. I spoke with the children at length that any giving into it needed to be done in absolute secrecy, so that only God sees. At the end of Lent we’ll count it together and donate it to a charity we agree upon, or a person we know needs timely help. To the left of this I assembled a Lenten bouquet; dried weeds and plants from a recent walk, that in their death, still are beautiful. The brittleness reminds me that Lent can be difficult and can make us feel a bit dried up, especially as important work is done on our souls. As Holy Week progresses, so will the bouquet, ending up resplendent. Our candle calendar sits ready to mark the days of the Bright Sadness.And finally, our Lenten devotional, “Tending the Garden of Our Hearts”, which will help us once again to gather each evening and be blessed, challenged, and encouraged in our journeys to Pascha.
And, prayer, sweet, glorious, challenging, prayer.
May your Lenten journey be blessed!