Friday, April 3rd

“He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.  The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”  He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  Mark 4:26-32


Oh, if it were only so simple…


When Jesus tells his stories of seeds growing in the earth, he draws from universal images that cross every culture.  Wherever people gather, seeds and dirt come together to produce that which keeps life moving.  It is ever a mystery.


But dirt does far more than that.  It not only feeds us, it also defines us.  Far beyond the practical fruits of cultivation, there are other roots that reach deeply into the earth as well.


I grew up in the land of rich loam soil.  For thousands of years, the rhythms of life included tall prairie grasses growing, sometimes burning and always dying.  Throw in an appearance as the bottom of one of the largest pre-historic freshwater lakes in the world, and a deep rich topsoil is born.  It was dirt that smelled good.  It was dirt that tasted good.  It was dirt that not only fed us, it defined us as people rooted to the land.


People rooted to the land.


I remember well the images of American prisoners of war walking down steps from the bellies of the airplanes that brought them home from years of captivity.  I remember seeing them fall to their knees and kiss the ground – an eternal symbol of thanksgiving, belonging and home.  They never kissed the airplane or the hangar, always the ground.


The newspapers tell us that an impasse has been reached in the peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Among the key issues is the ownership of portions of Jerusalem.  Ever since David first defeated the Jebusites, that has been among the holiest, and bloodiest, piece of dirt in the world.  Surely it is more than an address….


Humanity has always been rooted to the land.  Even those who wandered, did so only insofar as the land continued to make their wandering possible.  Only today, in our quest to master and subdue the earth, rather than simply to live in partnership with it, are we beginning to lose our attachment to place, our sense of connectedness to the land which sustains us.


Many people have told me they get a lot of peace and satisfaction out of digging in the dirt.  Most of those do so only because they can, rather than because they have to.  For while much grows easily once planted, the tending of what has been sown is the real art.


We are extensions of the dirt beneath our feet, filled with the breath of God yet destined one day to return to the soil out of which we spring.  Between now and then, between birth and death, let us tend well the dirt which God has given us.  Let us live thankfully and well upon this dirt.  For in it we will one day take our rest.  And out of it shall rise those who follow us – for their sake, let us use well the time we have been given to tend the soil of our lives.


Let us pray: Lord, your Word reminds us that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.  We are creatures of the earth, tied to its bounties and rhythms.  We pray for those who make their living from the land and those who long for a land in which to find their place.  We continue to pray for those who seek peace and wholeness among the peoples of Israel and her neighbors.  Help us tend well the garden you have given us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

One Response to “Friday, April 3rd”

  1. Lena Says:

    Again I would offer a grateful thank you. Bravo! So well written and metaphorically grounding. In our times of stress, choas, and transition it is so healthy to remember the solid earth we live on. This dirt along with water has been our survival since day one. How seldom we thank God for the most basic elements of life: dirt, wind, water, fire. Where would we be w/o them. Thank you again for grounding me this morning. It feels good to come down to earth from the turmoil all about us.

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