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Day 24—Tuesday, March 12

Song of Songs 4:13-15, The Message

Body and soul, you are a paradise,

A whole orchard of succulent fruits­-

Ripe apricots and peaches,

Oranges and pears;

Nut trees and cinnamon,

All scented woods;

Mint and lavender,

And all herbs aromatic;

A garden fountain, sparkling and splashing,

Fed by springs of water from the Lebanon mountains.


Contextually this is from one lover to the other in rather intimate and sense pulsating imagery. We can call immediately to recollection that atmosphere we experience in a rich garden fresh after a summer rain- lamentably, the sheer depth and beauty of this experience is not describable in human, tangible words. It is a gift by the Spirit for our deepest and most inward being, shared only between the Holy One and our deepest soul.


Lemons appeal to me as an artist, they always have. I have loved fruits and vegetables and painting them since I was a young child. What can a stupid little lemon teach us about Lenten disciplines and deep, deep inner self reflections?


The theologies of a lemon:

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

“Golly that car, appliance, fill in the blank ________________sure is a lemon.”

“A lemon martini with a twist sounds delicious, please.”

“Mixing salt and lemon juice is great for cleaning silver, the stove and the kitchen sink.”

“Southern hosts and hostesses pleasure lemons in a bowl -when seasonal flowers are lacking for the welcoming arrangement on the dinner table.”

“What would fish and chips be without a wedge of fresh juicy lemon?”


In colonial times citrus fruits were for the most privileged and wealthiest among the community. Today, citrus fruits are readily available easily pressing us to impatience when they are out of stock, reduced availability to frost and famines, droughts and transportation woes. Most grocery markets in America are stacked with acres of beautiful citrus fruits and vegetables. It is like a symphony of colors in every produce aisle.


The ubiquitous and lowly lemon is a small and beautiful gift with a large return. For twenty years, I chose every moment of holiday possible, to study impressionism with the famous Ilona Royce-Smithkin on Cape Cod each summer. (Visit Ilonaroyce.com). Lemons were at the heart of my daily etudes. Two lemons on a white cloth are filled with tremendous possibilities, if I observed carefully and thoughtfully. As a theological parallel, each lemon is totally different from the other. For the differences to show, the lemons must be in relationship to each other. Then comes alive the darks and the lights, the crevices and the bumps. When the real and present colors begin to show there are hundreds of levels of reds, greens, blues, purples, and of course, thousands of layers of yellows and oranges. The shadows have substance; the cloth reflects a light that takes trained eyes hours to observe the rich realities and nuances. The genuine quest for the artist is to convey this beauty and reality on the canvas, ultimately creating an atmosphere where the lemons are three dimensional and the observing eye is invited to walk behind entire of the beautiful lemons.


For me, the parallel in the Christian walk and Lenten inner disciplines of soul examination and the lowly lemon are synonymous. Nature gives all that we need to know and grow in grace. The beauties are all there right in front of our eyes. Taking time to examine and discover these intense beauties seems to be our weak spot.


Perhaps you will take time this Lent to observe the lemons and the fruits of Solomon’s gardens in your own life with a different perspective. Two lemons on a plate and painting in the summer woods sounds like an idyllic afternoon to me, I might savor some lemonade while I am observing the profound beauties and gifts from the Holy One in two lowly lemons.


Observe, dig, reflect, and learn. Is not this what Lent is all about? Perhaps it is more about taking on deep unfathomable depths into our souls….and not giving up something tangible. Observe a Holy Lent and meditate on two lemons from the garden of inexpressible beauties and joy!


-David-Charles Campbell

 

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