From The Storyteller
Hello All: This week Elaine is sharing our weekly story because she is the gardener in our home and the best person to share a powerful message. The names included are by permission. Enjoy. Doug
“This is soil; dirt is what collects in my house,” responded a neighbor, Rich Minder, to Doug’s question about why he was “digging in the dirt”. Turns out Rich was putting in a bed for strawberries. We were new to the community, and we soon learned soil was considered a living thing, one which the community works to nurture into existence.
Which brings me to Rich’s essay on the spiritual nature of working soil. Rich begins by reminding us that work is that which requires sustained effort to bring about a desired form by a gradual process, and that’s just what the community does. Guided by Laura Odell (certified permaculture specialist), who works “with Nature to create edible, living art”, members religiously add vegetable and fruit peels, crushed egg shells, clippings, fallen leaves and the like to a dedicated compost bin. And the work doesn’t stop there.
After months of turning the accumulated material, they work the dark, rich, decayed compost into the soil of landscaped areas and garden beds that are weeded, trimmed and watered. Ultimately the result is fragrant bouquets and an abundance of healthy, delicious herbs, fruit and vegetables shared by members of the community, bees and other wildlife.
Watching Rich, Laura and others intentionally, almost lovingly, work the soil and tend the beds, brings Doug to ask, “Why?” Is it just for aesthetics or the availability of food? I think not; fortunately for our community, food is easily found in our local, neighborhood market. For the answer to “Why?”, I turn again to Laura and Rich.
Laura says it this way, “I often think of the Book of Genesis when we are described as Stewards of the Earth… and we take responsibility for improving it while we can. I know that we need to feed the soul as well as the body…To me, working with the soil is a constant invitation to play, experiment and come into greater communion with myself and my Creator.
Rich further writes “The spiritual act of working the soil transgresses my Eurocentric cultural proclivity to separate the creator and the created. Hands and soil, air and soil, rain and soil … continuously witness creation giving divine life unto itself.”
Moral: Co-creating with nature is a spiritual act.