You may recall our Lenten Tree from last year.
The tree is back! I’m loving it even more now that our older son is growing in his awareness of “talking to God” and what it means to get ready for Easter.
I don’t know the true origin of the Lenten Tree, but we borrowed the idea from our church’s tradition. I placed a few twigs (Thanks, Dad!) in a pitcher, and this year, I set the pitcher on a swatch of purple fabric, the color of the Lenten season. On Ash Wednesday, when the tree first graced the center of our table, the branches of our tree were bare. They were colorless and lifeless. As the season progresses, we will fill the branches with colored ribbons to represent different kinds of prayers. For example, red is a prayer for forgiveness; orange is a prayer of thanksgiving. Blue is a prayer for peace, and a pink ribbon means that you are praying for wisdom. We are using nine different colors. As we grow closer and closer to the celebration of Easter, the tree becomes full of color. By the time Easter arrives, it is bursting with new life.
I love how the tree is a direct reflection of the changes in the natural world around us. In early March, the ground is dormant. The world is still brown and gray. But each week, we see the plants awakening; we see more color and sunshine. Especially with a late-April Easter this year, spring will truly have sprung when the time comes to celebrate. The tree makes the link from natural life to spiritual life so evident and accessible for little ones.
A wonderful blog friend (and real-life friend), Emily, has been contemplating praying with children at her blog, Watkins Every Flavor Beans. At this point in my young family’s development, the Lenten Tree is a great way to pray together. I tie a ribbon as a kind of record of a prayer that I’ve just prayed or have been meditating upon all day. For the boys, we consider the very act of tying the ribbon to be a little message to God, a way of saying “Today I’m thinking about courage” or praise or patience.