Dear Friends in Christ,
Sometimes, the oldest and most obscure traditions are the most necessary.
Such is the case this month, as we come towards Rogation Days. These are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the week before Ascension. (This year, Rogation Days are May 15, 16, and 17—just over a week from now.) Historically, the church in England used this time to celebrate the land.
Parishes would “beat the bounds”—walking the geographic perimeter of the parish. The practical goal was to prevent encroachment by neighboring farmers. Theologically, the goal was to celebrate the land. All within the bounds were blessed: the seeds, the instruments of labor, the laborers themselves.
Why does this obscure little English tradition matter now?
Our land needs blessing, deeply and desperately. Many of you have shared with me your concerns about the environment—about climate change writ large, and closer to home about the use and sustainability of our buildings. The motivation to address these challenges comes from sharing God’s desire to bless and celebrate creation.
We don’t (yet) mark rogation days liturgically at Grace. But rogation can be a personal practice for each of us. I encourage you to look in the boundaries of your ordinary life and see what needs to be blessed and preserved there.
Grand views tell us about the grandeur of creation. But you don’t have to go somewhere extraordinary to find the sacred. One of my favorite things to do is to walk from Grace down Four Mile Run and watch osprey catching fish in the shallow water. On busier days, I will sometimes just look at the oak trees at the end of our parking lot, appreciating their generosity as a species. (White oak trees are a keystone plant—they sustain hundreds of other creatures, essential connective tissue in our ecosystem.)
I hope you use these days leading up to Ascension to consider all that is good and holy in the world around you. We are each invited to care and nurture these gifts from God. And working together, learning about all we have been given, we can imagine and prepare for who we might become.
Yours in Christ,