The Soil Of Spirituality

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My wife loves to garden when she has the opportunity. She spends time outdoors planting, watering and generally tending the flowers in our garden. As we move into the Autumn months and beyond, things begin to change. Those plants that flourished in the bright sun and heat now begin to shed their leaves and move into a dormant state. There are processes within the plant that seem to go on that she cannot see or manipulate. They are part of the cycle of the plants and those things seem to carry on in spite of her desire to prolong the beauty of the bloom for as long as possible. Eventually the cycle moves beyond her control and the plants that once flowered now look like small sticks in the ground, leafless and seemingly lifeless. But that is the illusion more than the reality. The truth is there is a whole different kind of work going on in unseen places and unseen ways. Recently she has mentioned that she would like to purchase a composter. Since my horticultural expertise is somewhat limited, I had to ask her to explain what that was. She explained that it is something to store dead leaves, grass cuttings, old and decaying food, and general refuse. In my mind, that’s called a trashcan. But she explained that a container for compost provides an opportunity for all that material to decompose and become fertilizer for the ground. Also, soil made up of compost is rich with nutrients for plant life and their further growth.

I have come to realize there is a spirituality to composting. What I might consider the unpleasant waste and refuse of life God seems to want to use as the rich soil of spiritual growth. It seems to be an axiom of the kingdom of God that for life to flourish there must be death. For the seed and plant to grow there must be the decomposition that follows death. But, if you are like me, the tendency is to try to avoid or escape those unpleasant places of death and dying. It seems pretty natural to cling to life. But possibly, in our clinging to one kind of life, we are unable to see and experience a greater, more fruitful and abundant kind of life.

In the Gospel of John Jesus encounters a blind man and His disciples ask, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” It seems as disciples we can easily look at unpleasant circumstances and immediately seek to assess blame and condemn the responsible party. But Jesus has a different perspective, as He often does. Rather than seeing the man’s blindness as a result of sin He sees it as opportunity for God’s works to be displayed. Where the disciples can only see something unfortunate and unpleasant Jesus sees fertile soil, comprised of the broken, decaying, uncomfortable and marginalized of life. It is the very essence of refuse and waste that so often carries with it an unpleasant aroma. What I might characterize as of no value, Jesus seems to deem of great value for displaying the work of God. Out of the soil of blindness God grows the flower of new vision. Out of the place of humility and brokenness God displays His glory and new life.

It is out of the decay and decomposition of life that new life springs. But to see it we may need to walk with Jesus and listen for His words that alert us to the presence of something more. God is carrying out the process of spiritual composting so that a rich and new life might be produced in me. That compost made up of the death and decay of my life is the very place the seed of new life can grow. To avoid those places of unpleasantness and even the pain of death won’t promote growth but actually may hinder the authentic growth God has in mind for my life. This is the real, God inspired and empowered transformation that is bringing about the restoration and renewal of His image in my life. It is always a stretching perspective to recognize the goodness of life in the soil of death. But it is the way of Jesus as He walks the path of suffering and death on His way to resurrection.

Today, I want to encourage you in the process of spiritual composting. The elements of death and decay that seem like waste to be thrown away may be the very ingredients of the rich soil of further transformation. What has been perceived as unpleasant may provide the opportunity for God’s works to be displayed in you. It is a different perspective than that of this world, but it is an expression of a new kingdom and a new way. You may need to pause with Jesus to hear His larger perspective on these things. Let this day be filled with attentive listening for the word of Jesus that invites us to see more and to see differently the brokenness and decay of this world and our lives. Here is some music to further your reflective process. Blessings.

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