Back in High School and even during some summers as a college student, I’d work as a gardner for some family friends. They’d have me do almost all their landscaping.
Pull out bushes.
Lay down mulch.
Release raccoons they had trapped in cages into local cemeteries…
All that fun stuff.
The older I got, the more removed I was from soil. As a kid I remember digging for bugs in the mud of my backyard with a friend of mine named Christopher. But as I grew up, the games I played resulted in less and less soil cloaked knee caps.
But through this job, I was able to get my hands dirty again (pun intended).
Initially, frustrated that my gatorade and water bottles were getting dirt and grime on their plastic casings, I’d use garden gloves. But as is the case with humid Michigan summers, the sweat that accumulated proved to be too much. So off came the shells on my hands.
Barehanded, I’d cup my hand and dig at the ground. Then, slowly, I’d take the flowers and plant them along walk ways and in front of the home.
As the summer wore on, they had me plant all kinds of bushes, uproot dead trees, pull weeds.
Each time I planted something or uprooted it I began to realize an abundantly obvious but mind boggling fact. The bed of life that all the plants found their new home in - or were being removed from -
Was always dirt.
Dirt is the bed that houses all of life. It is the place where things have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
It is through dirt that all sorts of species and plants can stake their roots and have their foundation.
And through dirt providing a foundation for plants…
Animals have something they can eat.
Plants can release oxygen for us to breathe.
We can have fresh tomatoes from our backyard on our salads.
Dirt, in a sense, is the basis of all the life there is.
And you and I are dirts direct descendants.
We are made from it.
It’s our heritage.
Our genesis or origin comes from a place of providing and being the sustainer of life.
Yet we have strayed away from what our origin set out to do.
Dirt houses life.
I often house bitterness and hatred.
Dirt takes in all that it can to allow for growth. It is the embodiment of acceptance.
I was raised in a Christian tradition that only took in certain things that were accepted as “truth” while other things were seen as “fringe” and “dangerous.”
What’s interesting about dirt is that it doesn’t pick and chose.
Actually, dirt does quite the opposite. Dirt seems to simply let life move and shape itself and it just houses all that growth and change.
It’s perhaps the most accepting thing on earth.
To emphasize that point, if you were to stick a spoon into the dirt and scoop, you’d have a spoon that contains more organisms in it than there are people on the planet from just that one scoop alone.
Dirt is an all inclusive powerhouse of life that lets whatever the hell wants to occupy it, occupy it. And in doing so, both it and the other party can grow.
The theology of dirt says quite simply, “Anything that I can take in that will yield life for this ecosystems community, I’ll let grow. No questions asked.”
And dirt, as I tried to relay in part one, is what we’re made out of.
But how often do we as people do that?
How often do we simply let things grow so they can benefit this earth with their life simply as they are, even if we aren’t familiar with their type of existence?
Or agree with them
Or are the same color as them
Or have the same sexual orientation
Or have the same political leanings
Or have the same educational background
How often do we allow for things to thrive as they naturally are?
I find that far more often, I’m pulling what I classify as weeds rather than letting things grow.
And yet, whether I look at it through the context of the big bang or through the context of a God forming me out of clay, my heritage is tied to dirt.
But just as we all grow up and become more bitter and jaded and sad and closed off and removed…
We have strayed from what we initially were…
Bearers of life and welcomers to all.
No questions asked.
So how do we get back there?