Sunny Pathway

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Soil. Dirt. Earth.

It’s black where we live. I’ve also been personally acquainted with some that was a yellowish brown and some that was a rusty red.

On Tuesday evening Ken and I had a picnic. Under a waning fall sun in Lindenwood Park—stretched along the Fargo side of the Red River of the North—we walked over dirt from our car to a table.

The park was one of the areas under flood waters last spring. When we visited it shortly after the water receded, the area was gray and filled with debris brought in by angry water—a battle zone.

Now, to the west of us, a toddler took halting steps from the table to his grandma. On the east, a three-year-old played hide-and-seek with a frustrated mom wanting visual contact. Their sounds mingled with the breeze and birds. Trees are beginning to show color. Rich smells of decomposing plant-life tickled my nose.

Oh, I thought, God is good.

I enjoy our condo, but we’re on the second floor and our private access to the world is our deck. There I enjoy sounds and smells—and the strong North Dakota winds—but I don’t walk across ground.

I rarely walk across the ground as part of my daily life. When we go places, I stay on sidewalks. Connecting with dirt requires effort.

I had assumed all dirt was inorganic until I read about it on Wikipedia. It seems dirt contains organic materials as well.

That makes sense. While on our trip, we gathered with Ken’s family at the home of his sister and husband in Spokane. Byron gardens a plot that was part of a horse stable. The soil is rich, and we feasted on unblemished and perfectly ripened tomatoes the size of grapefruits. The ears of corn were complete—sweet, with kernels reaching to the tip and none of them missing. There was a great deal of organic material in the dirt producing those vegetables.

Dirt needs water to produce. We stopped in Havre, MT, for a picnic lunch on the way home. I expected something semi-arid like its surroundings. Instead, one city block featured well-watered grass—lush like the grass of my childhood in central Minnesota—freshly mowed—so thick we couldn’t see the dirt under it. The dirt across the street was of the yellowish brown variety.

Back in Fargo, Lindenwood features manicured flower beds surrounded by grass that survives. But in June, grass planted to restore what was damaged by the flood was the fresh shade of green found only in new growth. All summer long traveling campers pitched their tents and parked their trailers on that grass. Did they know they were standing on soil redeemed by the sweat and tears of people willing to pay a price?

I read recently that our planet is not as solid as we might think. Disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes are not signs of destruction but signs of life. When the plates of soil that make up our planet’s outer layer stop grinding against each other—and when the core of our planet stops erupting its molten content—our planet and all the forms of life it sustains will die.

That brings a new perspective.

How much of this did Jesus understand during His earthly life? The Bible tells us He created the world and He holds it together by His Word. (Jn. 12:1-4; Heb. 3:3) He relinquished that knowledge—His omniscience—when He lived as a man.

But Jesus loved dirt and the things that grow in it. He used types of soil as a metaphor for types of people. He used seeds and grains as metaphors. And He used flowers as the image of artless beauty: Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet . . . Solomon in all his glory was not arranged like one of these. (Lk.12:27 KJV)

Flowers grow in dirt. As a layperson, I might have flashes of insight on dirt—soil—earth. Scientists know so much more.

God holds it all together.


Anonymous said...

brings Ezekial to mind...
(my favorite prophet)

Solveig said...

Well, I'm not exactly sure how it relates to Ezekiel--but it's been a long time since I read him through as he's not one of my favorites--but thanks for the response.