COMPOST and DIGGING. Starting a few years years ago, as both spiritual practice and a way to grow delicious food, I have been gardening throughout the year. I learned this practice from my mother who learned this practice from her parents. In the winter, the work is based on saving the compost and layering it outside with leaves and all of the scraps from our kitchen. All have the potential to become life giving.
Not so great for nail-care, but one of my favorite practices is the process of stirring a compost directly with my hands. When we lived in Ithaca, NY (far more rural than the DC Metro region), I looked forward to the spring-thaw each year when I could get out into our backyard and mix our compost bin. I would start with a shovel, but then about half an hour in, I would just use my hands. There was a raw beauty of being so deeply connected to God’s creation.
I would kneel on the ground – in a sort of prayer posture giving God thanks for the changing season – and make piles of the old-bits of fruit and vegetable and leaves already broken down into brown matter ready for planting. I would make a separate pile for the other bits that needed to stay and ferment a while longer. I loved feeling the grit of the deep soil embedded in my palms and ground into my nails.
It was in the hard-work of digging that I would see how leftover scraps of fruit and vegetable matter gave way for new life to be born. In the process of digging, in the movement, and even in the feeling of sore shoulders the next day – I would feel how deeply rooted we are to God’s creation.
Then the rewards came from the spring to the fall where I could spend an entire afternoon without notice admiring tending to the spring peas, pinning back the tomato bumper crop, or growing squash for soup to be shared.
Since living in Arlington, VA and working at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC, I have realized that my connected-to-God’s-creation-lifestyle shouldn’t be limited to country living. We don’t have a yard, so I put a few vegetable pots on our deck.
Then last Lent (2015), thanks for a very awesome 2nd grader at NYAPC, I was introduced to the idea of worm-composting. It is essentially the same idea as regular composting, but all of the compost is confined to a layered box with red-wriggler worms. It is much better for our small urban area – so good that we have taken the practice to church. (This practice is in the posts categorized “Worms for Lent.”)
This portion of the blog is about the various ways we might dig for God together listening to God in the still small things. I hope you will join me.