Jabbok Dawn

Tumbling in the Sand

Sidewalk Flowers

Reflections for Lent 2019 – Day 1

It’s one of those wordless children’s books where the pictures tell stories and convey more meaning than a million pages of text. Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith’s Sidewalk Flowers is a story in which a child and her father are walking through a city together running errands and going about the day. The father is busy with the errands: talking on the phone, getting groceries, hailing a taxi. He is not absent. He holds his daughter’s hand, he is seen looking at beautiful things that she points out to him. But he’s a bit distracted and busy. The little girl is not at all in a hurry and wanders along, noticing small wild flowers (some would call weeds) growing in the sidewalk cracks and along the side of the road. She gradually collects them and then gives them away. The description on the back of the book reads, “…whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.”

It’s a beautiful book. And I’m naming my reflections for Lent this year after it because my Lenten disciplines this year are really about opening up the space in my heart and life to notice the sidewalk flowers. I’ve actually felt this whole year needs to be about opening space. I’m not sure what I’m opening space for, but something needs more space in my life. And so, I’ve been working on it a bit. But this Lent continues the clearing as I’ve taken on the discipline of fasting from Facebook for Lent and along with that, I hope, more time in my present moment to notice… to notice moments of beauty, perhaps. Or maybe to notice what needs the space I’m trying to find.

We’ll see how it goes. If today is any indication, it’s going to be hard. I know I’ve gone to open Facebook dozens of times today to stop just in time. If this is anything like other things I’ve fasted from, it will get easier and then harder and then easier again. We shall see.

In the meantime, I’ve committed to writing a reflection here every day for Lent. I hope I do better than last time I tried this. I will try to focus on a single sidewalk flower for each day that I can share here. Maybe there will be something there to transform each of us.

4 comments on “Sidewalk Flowers

  1. Frank Hanrahan
    March 6, 2019

    Looking forward to your ”flowers”!

    Wishing you a most Blessed Lent!



    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Greg Gardner
    March 7, 2019

    Lena, some years ago, when I was in a terribly dark place, struggling to get sober, finish seminary, navigate the ending of my eleven year relationship with my partner, I discovered your words: “Perfection isn’t about getting it all right, but about always growing and learning along the way. That is fully human. That is perfectly human.” You, Henri Nouwen, Anne Lamott, and Richard Rohr helped save my life. Keep at it, dear friend. People whom you’ll never know need and are listening to your sacred experience. Thank you for speaking to Life, in all its messiness, and reminding us we cannot and should not do this human journey alone.


    • jabbokdawn
      March 7, 2019

      Greg, your comment is to me an entire garden of flowers. Thank you so much for letting me know that my words made a difference for you in a dark time. I’m so humbled and grateful. And that quote … I should frame it myself. I remember where it came from but I had forgotten it. I forget so often my own words. Thank you again. I hope that you are in a much better place these days and I hope that you’ve ended up somewhere where you’ve been called to be!


  3. Bill Hass
    April 14, 2019

    Hi Pastor Lena,

    I’m trying to make time and find space as you can see by the date on the post and today’s date. This is so perfect. I’m going to print it to remind myself that we all need to see what we are looking at and be present where we are and so much more.

    Thank you,


    March 6, 2019,


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