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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, February 26, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with your free Spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

“Create in Me a Clean Heart” (Psalm 51)
Hymn 422, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

My high school job in a flower shop tasked me with polishing plant leaves, taking out trash, and sweeping up. One Saturday, the florist pointed to a large plant and instructed me to trash it. To me the plant appeared to be flourishing. When I looked at her quizzically, she explained, “There’s a fungus growing around the roots. It will surely die, and I don’t want to disappoint a customer by selling an item that only looks healthy. The only way to save it is to painstakingly remove all the bad dirt from the roots and replant it in clean dirt. It’s just not worth the effort to save it.” Rather than trashing it, I was granted permission to take it home and try the root cleansing.

That afternoon in my backyard, I removed each plant stalk and gently brushed off the dirt embedded in the tangle of roots. It wasn’t long before I regretted this tedious project and I beat the plant stalks against the ground to loosen the dirt and expedite the process. Eventually I removed all the bad dirt and replanted in clean dirt. I had very little hope that my project would prove successful. Surprisingly the plant flourished and grew! When my parents downsized their house ten years later, that large, healthy plant was gifted to a friend. The cleansing of the dirt had worked!

On Ash Wednesday I will be reminded that I came from dirt and to dirt I will return. In the meantime, I will ask God to create a clean heart in me so that I will flourish and be a blessing. I’ll also ask God to be more patient with the tedious process than I am.

O God, between my stints as dirt, give me an unrelenting desire for a clean heart and a right spirit. It is through those that I will find my joy in you. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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