Hospitality Grounds is the community garden at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Park City, Utah. We broke ground and built several raised beds, in autumn 2012, with generous donations from our local Stock Building Supply and Home Depot. The garden has lain dormant for the past several months, covered in a quiet blanket of snow, but our thoughts continually turn toward spring.

During the season of Lent, the 40 weekdays before Easter, the spiritual community holds our annual missions fundraiser. This year we chose the theme, ‘Planting Seeds of Change’, which invites us to reflect on the connection between the social justice work of our missions and the contemplative aspects of gardening. The following is the introduction to our Lenten mindfulness practice:

As you all know at St Luke’s, Lent is the season in which we turn our focus toward our annual missions fundraiser. As is our tradition, we hold only one fundraiser during the year to raise money for our missions programs; the entirety of our annual missions budget is determined by the success of this campaign. This year our campaign theme is ‘Planting Seeds of Change’. I hope you will spend a few moments and read the reports in the catalogue that detail the many ways in which we, as a spiritual community, impact the community around us – locally, regionally, and globally.

Today, as we kick off our Lenten season I would like to invite you to participate in a new and exciting aspect of our missions’ campaign. This year beyond raising funds we are also raising our mindfulness – our awareness. Today we are starting something new that reaches further than our checkbooks and touches our hearts on an even deeper level. I am inviting you to join me, and the rest of the parish, in a practice of mindfulness focused on our missions. You may wonder just what I mean by mindfulness, and unbeknownst to you, you may already be practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice of awareness, a focus of intentionality – a contemplative practice that connects our physical actions with our deeper spiritual self. Many of us cross ourselves at prayer or with water from the baptismal font – these actions remind us of our identity as Christians and our baptismal covenant & calling. Some of us choose to genuflect and or reverence the cross with a nod or bowing gesture – in doing so we inwardly give reverence to the work of the Christ, and through physical action we connect to our awareness of the transformative work that the life of Jesus performs in us.

So, you may be wondering just how in the world this mindfulness stuff will connect with our missions campaign. Let me explain, in a box at the back of the sanctuary is a selection of flower seeds; these seeds each have a sleeve with the name of one of our missions on it. The missions’ council is offering each us the gift of a package of seeds. We hope you will take a moment, following the service today, to select a package of seeds representing a mission that you will focus on, in mindfulness, during the coming weeks. I suggest that to begin with you put the package of seeds in a visible place, maybe your refrigerator door. Each time you view the seeds be reminded of the mission you chose, be aware of your hopes and dreams for that mission, and of your thoughts and feelings. You are simply taking a moment to connect.

Additionally, to assist us all with our practice I will offer a reflection each week in the bulletin; should you be absent one week the bulletin is conveniently available on the St. Luke’s website: http://www.stlukespc.org . I am also attempting to create an audio file of the reflection that you may access throughout the week at your convenience via the web. Pray that I am successful and I’ll include the web-link to that file in future bulletins as well! These weekly reflections are designed to lead us just a little deeper, beyond the seeds on the refrigerator door.

As we cultivate a contemplative practice of mindfulness we cultivate the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, as the seeds of the Holy Spirit are already within us. When we are in a state of distraction we are not alive, we are not present, and the ritual of mindfulness helps us birth our spiritual life – our deeper awareness and connection. In the following weeks I will introduce additional topics such as: soil – the quality of environment and resources; roots – our groundedness and source of nourishment, as well as the interconnectedness of all beings; wind – a source of unpredictability that can blow unexpected and undesired seeds into our garden; and the unfurling of the flower’s petals – the stance of opening to pollination and pollinators.

This spring, around Mother’s Day, we will hold a seed starting party – gathering all those who wish to plant and nurture the seeds of their mission. Then after danger of frost, around Father’s Day, we will hold a planting party where all the starts will be transplanted into the new (to be build) planters at the entry of the main church building. These planters will be our St. Luke’s Missions Flower Beds. Each time we see the flowers in these planters we will be mindful of the work of our missions. Additionally, the church school kids will have the opportunity to paint the raised flower beds with pictures of our missions.

So, as you can see no only will this seed campaign raise money for our missions’ budget, but with a little care it will also grow our hearts, and become a vision of our mission of hospitality, as we beautify our entry and welcome those we’ve yet to meet. I encourage you to take a package of seeds today and start simply by placing them in an obvious location. From there, join the rest of us in taking small steps toward a deeper journey together. Whether or not you have a green thumb, or choose to plant the seeds in the St. Luke’s mission’s planters, we hope you will at least take a package of seeds and join us in mindfulness. Everyday seeds are planted in our hearts; today choose which seeds you will plant.

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