In the Hopi language, this plant is called Masi ousvie. It lives in the desert and thrives even in such harsh landscapes. It’s nick-name in the west is Mormon Tea and its medicinal, technical name is Ephedra Viridis. I came across it a lot as I hiked.
The stems and the leaves have been found in the corners of 10th century native pebbles and in their garbage dumps. We know they ingested both the leaves and the stems and we know the effects. When ingested, the blood vessels open, the heart rate increases, the brain is stimulated – in fact, the entire body lights up like a Christmas tree.
Wandering the desert one comes across such plants which thrive even in hardship and minister to the needs of the harvester. Similarly, in Lent, we wander our deserts. We look at the thriving plants in our lives. We wonder what effect they have on the world around us and we marvel at the small acts of kindness which light up the lives of those with whom we live and move and have our being.
This seems like such a small, insignificant shrub. One would walk past it on a stroll in the desert. And similarly, we often walk past those charisms in our own lives which bring joy to others and to ourselves. Lent is not for looking hard at evil. Lent is a time to see clearly that we have great goodness inside us and that what may look, at first glance to be common, is quite healing to the planet and the people around us.