Sometimes, I just need to sit still on dirt.
It sounds strange, but how often do we allow ourselves to sit on the ground? I spend most of my day on a chair, or standing in my rubber-soled shoes, which makes me feel “above” the Earth. I forget what it feels like to freely touch mud. Who needs to feel the dirt and be cleansed when we can rest on prestigious sitting spots?
Here’s what I’ve noticed in myself this week: unless I spend time with Creation, allowing my hands and feet and face to feel the raw outdoors, I start crawling in my head. One thought of desire to control creeps in until I live like a computational machine, calculating time blocks and assignment schedules and text message reminders like my life depends on it. I feel as if I need to arrange my life to avoid contact with the dirt as much as possible, and to only show a spotless face. Who needs to trust God’s love when I can pretend to be perfect? This fear is living by wilfulness, dangerously masked as spiritual perfectionism. Life becomes all about me and my will rather than the life that Christ is living in me.
Perhaps this is the greatest issue of our capitalistic era: a self-centered view of the sacred that rules our hearts. If I believe that an individual pursuit of success builds the good of community, I unknowingly compete to win the most out of life. This creates an unnamed god of competitive efficiency. For example, think of how often we make God’s blessings of time, our bodies, our planet, our relationships, our spiritual journeys into objects of control rather than gifts to receive with open hands. We try to prove our worth to receive these gifts, and we clutch on to them with wilful strength. In our grasping, we forget what it means to be fundamentally human, dependent upon God’s grace. We forget that each gift in life is impermanent, as temporal as our bodies themselves, made of the fragile dust of the Earth.
Only in Christ is there enough grace to capture the human heart back from the stock market exchange of fear and control. Christ teaches us that we must be vulnerable (in other words, loved-but-not-in-control) in order to be fully human. Christ offers us the greatest gift of redemption in dark, broken places, taking upon his body all the pain that we try to avoid. Jesus guides our hands to touch the dirt until it becomes new flesh.
Christ also offers the ideal vision of the Kingdom: a creation founded upon a Law of Love, rather than selfish greed. This vision forces us to recognize the demons hiding in our minds that separate us from God and from others. I know that Scripture never lets me rest comforted by my desire to control my life or become successful by any worldly measure. When I follow Christ, I am forced to see the injustices and the reality of this world that I cannot change by myself, all I can do is surrender myself in trust of God’s will. Christ forces me to see that the world will never be perfect, yet we are still loved and when we surrender ourselves to that love, God becomes the sacred ground of our lives.
In light of this theme of “touching ground,” coming back to the reality of God’s love for broken humanity, I would like to share this poem that the grass inspired today. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Davidson for mid-February – a perfect day to sit in dirt. This day of reflection allowed me to realize what a ground-touching and de-centering experience the Journey to El Salvador will be, as we are called to build relationships with one another through God’s love, strengthening us in His hands that hold us. I pray that this experience is one that breaks our hearts from old gods, and turns us to the Light of the Living Truth.
A poem for this Spring day:
Sing your praises to broken blades
sing your praises to broken blades
of flesh springing forth, grass lips
jealous for heated bodies
the beams they feast upon at sunrise.
shout joyful noise to the silence of stems
stepping into sidewalk cracks, battle fields
where man’s savagery chokes
the humility of humming blades.
sing with the hunger of your shallow lungs
for the futility of fallen seed: it rises
from sedimentary jaw bones
just to see the sinking sun before
its fate, a mid-February funeral.
in the time geese gasp for air
another young blade becomes dust;
newborn bodies rot beneath fallen snow.
sing to ripped seams of unsown skin,
seeds make garments of green
that lick the unseen scars of
earth’s scabbed limbs.
spring ground tastes like salvation.
excavated dirt redeemed by the fallen
grass, giving birth to bursts of air
exploding in naked breaths.
sing your off-tune melodies
to the green eyes of God’s body
raw to the bone of its reticence.
surrendered, it holds morning dew until sunrise
humbly, then, it lifts the earth’s tears to sky.
the grass begs you to sing from your hips,
rooted down, let it carry you into the ground
where your smallness makes you sit still
until seeds of your imagined greatness
become windtossed and smothered
in the raw redemption
of earth’s broken body.
reborn grass begs you to sing
drunken love songs to the wild abundance
bursting beneath your seat.
sing your praises to those broken blades
of flesh springing forth, your lips longing
for the richness of redeemed creation
the ground you feast upon at sunrise.
then, perched upon the window sill of the universe
you may sing out praises like a nameless bird.
your lungs rise from hallowed ground
trusting as you surrender your seed to the sound
of dying into the resounding grass melody.