Monday, March 31, 2014

Watching the grass grow: helping children get ready for Easter

(I'm re-posting suggestions from last year.)

Looking at Lent as a purely penitential season isn’t necessarily helpful for children, who often have an exaggerated sense of guilt to begin with. 

While it’s important to acknowledge that we don’t always get things right or behave as we should, it’s also essential to let children know that God loves and forgives, always. Nothing we can do can separate us from God’s love. We always have a chance at new beginnings.

That’s why I’m going to use these last weeks of Lent as a time to suggest ways that families can get ready for the celebration of Easter, rather than provide specific activities for Lent itself.

I’m starting with this first activity because it takes time to prepare – and then there’s the waiting.  We’re going to grow grass.

A week or ten days before Easter, have the children plant wheat grass seeds in small containers such as paper cups or small bowls.  You can check with health food stores for whole wheat seeds (sometimes called wheat berries), or you can get grass seeds to grow for indoor cats from your local pet store or online at such places as (which is the source of the photo above).  

You will also need potting soil to put in the small containers. These containers of grass can then be used as nests for colored eggs and put at everyone’s place at the table for Easter dinner. There's something alive and lovely about growing grass indoors.

For an art activity before you fill the containers and plant the seeds, have the children decorate their containers with pictures of grass or flowers or the sun or bright abstract designs--whatever pleases them.  They can make the designs on paper and tape or glue them to the containers, or they can work directly on the containers themselves if the surface allows. 

Once you have seeds, potting soil, and decorated containers, here’s what to do:

·      * soak the seeds in water overnight 
·      * plant them in small containers of potting soil
·      * water enough during the week to keep the soil damp

Before or after the children plant the seeds, you can teach them the Easter song  “Now the Green Blade Rises.”  Below are three different presentations of the song.

·      * with guitar accompaniment:
·      * by a college quartet:
·      * Ely Cathedral choir:

Slightly varied versions of the lyrics can be found:

Where I live in Maine, the grass outside is often buried under snow until long after Easter.  One year when the snow was especially deep, I planted wheat grass seeds in a ceramic bowl and took it to school where it spent a month on my desk. Adolescent students in my English classes would walk by and touch the growing grass, pat it, run their hands over it. That small container of earth and green evoked such longing for spring in all of us that it seemed a sacred thing in a very secular place.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.