covered over in dirt and refuse:
these thrown away flower stems and coffee grounds
all used up and broken.
These fruit rinds and slimy leaves,
These egg shells and half-eaten remains of meals,
tossed out of our home and into the world.
The heat has been building in the stillness of our garden,
witnessed only by the bird that has nested in the tree,
and the snails who are carrying their lives on their backs,
and the cat who lurks on the fence.
Foodstuff gives way to the dirt, as my fingers crumble the death in the pile,
turning the tomato leaves into the molding strawberries I forgot to eat,
mixing the scraps of yesterday with the leftovers from last month.
The smell lingers under my nails long after I’ve scrubbed the dirt from my skin.
There is an ache in my heart and arms as I reach into the pile, measuring the heat against my own body.
These memories of meals and moments stick in my brain,
and the weight of the decay resists the turning.
There is so much to mourn in this movement:
Childhood trips to our family compost pile, a sacred place in our family to which in winter we cut a path and our late beloved dog wore down to mud and matted grass.
Carrying eighty pounds of compost from its winter home on our Chicago back porch to the garden to surround the urban corn rows, letting the juice splash at our feet and legs as the wind changed from biting to loving.
Elbow-deep measuring with my grandmother, inhaling the tomato plants as my knees pressed into the ground, to be imprinted by mulch, another vestige of dying earth around me.
Beautiful, sacred moments, long lost to the turning of the earth around the hot, glowing sun.
I cannot get them back, I can only trust them to the God who is making something new in the darkness, calling forth life from all that has been strewn from our kitchens and lives:
bone upon bone, breath upon breath, heartbeat upon heartbeat.
Sweet, sacred earth. Somehow, you are made new—God always finding a way to make life out of the death that we so quickly accept as the end of the peel, stem, grounds of our being.
These artifacts of our waste gestate and re-incarnate, resurrecting into what they have always been—from stardust to stardust, ashes to ashes, topsoil to topsoil.
We mistake this miracle as just a process of earth, instead of seeing it the building of a just world, where death turns into life, again and again.
Instead of seeing God making a new way:
My palms are grimy as they scoop out the hot, dark earth that has been waiting for the light to be invited in.
Stardust into topsoil, the earth fills the empty waiting vessel, making space to welcome the fledging plant in its midst, making space in this death-into-life soil for more life, making space for miracles to birth more miracles.
It is a new day. Christ is risen.
originally posted on Presbyterians for Earth Care