As winter finally loosens its hold we will begin to smell the warming of the earth. Unless you are in the field or garden working the soil, you have to really pay attention to smell the earth warming. If you haven’t paid attention I encourage you to stand outside near some open, fertile ground on a warm sunny day; take a deep, cleansing breath, open yourself to the amazing presence of the fullness of the earth. This is the smell and taste and feel of Life.
In the beginning, the scriptures teach us, God formed us out of the earth, the humus. It is a good metaphor to help us remember how connected we are to the soil beneath our feet. It is a good metaphor to help us be grounded in the interconnectedness we have with all of Creation. We are created from dirt. Humus. And we are good! Dirt is good! Humus is important!
“The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.”--- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977
We are learning that we have taken this humus, this earth, for granted for too long. We have planted lawns and gardens and fields. We have built towns, cities, houses, business, and roads. We have manipulated and rearranged and used the dirt as if it were merely dirt, rather than Life.
But we are learning. We are learning that what we do to our dirt makes a difference to the health of the entire web of our planet. We are learning that healthy dirt is swarming with Life. Microbes, nutrients, minerals, insects, worms, these are all ‘soil life’. And like humans these are all good.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” --- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949
While I was in Mexico we marveled at the ‘dirt’ the farmers were planting their hopes and dreams into. Much of it looked like the leftovers from a construction project. Full of sand, gravel, rocks and dry dust. Very little organic Life. But, BUT, these farmers were tenaciously renewing this depleted soil with all the tools of rebuilding soil: worm gardens, compost tea, manure compost, cover crop, rotational planting and pasturing, and the use of appropriate seeds for the climate. It was so good to stoop down in their fields that had been cared for with such concern and, dare I say, hope, to smell the renewed soil. It was good to hear of the work being done to reconnect the people of Oaxaca to their heritage of land. This is what will be the hope for the people of Oaxaca. A land so impoverished that its gross national product is almost 0%. But through a reconnection to the ways of ancient farming communities have a hope of survival.
As we look at our vast acres of land and smell its reawakening this Spring, let us remember how connected we are to the soil, how we are part of the community that includes the land. God has given us this gift. Let us honor it.
Hope and Peace, Pastor Debra