Dirt – Part Two
Compost has become dear to me as of late. We purchased a kitchen compost container last summer. Mike’s grandma had one; it was a plastic bucket on the sink. She’d throw kitchen scraps (non-meat stuff) over the hill. The plum tree on that hill was extraordinarily healthy and the hillside grew the most spectacular display of nasturtium flowers. Our compost piles (yes, there are two of them) are located behind the lemon tree. The lemon tree is one of the happiest I’ve seen.
When we take from the dirt, we need to give something back. This is a general rule. One of the reasons the dust bowl of the Great Depression was so devastating had to do with the breaking of this rule. In addition to the practice of mono-culture, growing the same crop over and over in the same place, farmers did not replace what was taken out of the soil in the process of growing the plants. That’s not sustainable.
We have increased our household’s contribution to the land that feeds us by making more dirt. Wait, isn’t God the one who made the dirt? Is it possible that we can actually make dirt? It is amazing that we can participate in this regenerative process with God. In fact, it is our responsibility to be stewards of the dirt we call home. It is amazing how alive the dirt becomes; there are baby worms in it. I do not know how they get there, but they grow up in the dirt we make. Does the stork bring them?
Our spirits require the same kind of tending. Life requires our resources of patience, perseverance, hope, compassion for others and ourselves…the list goes on. We cannot sustain the endless depleting of these resources. We must put something back into the ground of our own being, the soil of our soul. Often, people think they are replenishing the soul when all we are really doing is distracting ourselves. Making compost for actual soil is unsightly and sometimes smelly work. Replenishing our soul can require of us actions that may seem tiresome or non-productive.
The garden of the soul requires replenishing and tending. The leftover, throw away parts of our lives can often be transformed into rich soil. It needs the tender grace of God for transformation and that means we must avail ourselves of God’s tenderness by showing up with God, in prayer, in worship, in study. Making dirt requires effort, but it grows a great garden.