We call these weeks “Lent” because of the “lengthening” days, the growing light that, in time, will coax the buds to swell, the ferns to unfurl, and the flowers to open up in bloom. Emily Dickinson was an avid gardener and student of the botanical world, a perfect docent for this season of awakening. As the cross and the empty tomb approach, the church prepares with forty days of fasting and reflection, clearing and cultivation, all for the sake of more fully celebrating the spring’s Easter garden when it comes.

And so if Lent is about lengthening light, it’s also about broadening our hearts and opening our eyes – and poetry can help. In a letter to a friend, Emily Dickinson defined poetry this way: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” As we approach the holiest week of the Christian year, with its bitter cold, its angelic fire, its shadows of death and its blooms of new life, poetry can deepen and heighten our sense of the season.

In this Lenten devotional, the words of scripture and the poetry
of Emily Dickinson will be our guides. Each week, biblical texts and Dickinson’s poems throw light on each other, pointing toward simple, powerful practices you can try yourself, with your family or friends, or in concert with your congregation.

So grab your favorite Bible and a collection of Dickinson’s poetry (all the poems may also be found online). Week by week, we’ll travel this Lenten journey together toward Easter morning – and thereby do our part, in a world so full of shadows, to help lengthen the light, warm our hearts, and tip the tops of our heads to the joy of God’s springtime resurrection.

This resource was purchased and shared with permission from SALT