We are facing our mortality more than ever these days, the threat of covid-19 looming large in every conversation, news story, or trip to the grocery store. How (when) will it affect me and the people I love? What will happen to those who are particularly vulnerable? Will we have enough toilet paper? Our fear and anxiety are often based, if hidden from our minds, in our fear of death – of losing control over our mortal, physical selves, and entering into the Great Unknown. We’re afraid of becoming dirt again, for to dirt we shall return.
At least in modern English, “dirt” is a negative concept. If something is dirty, it seemingly has lost its purpose and is fit only for the rubbish bin. When a person is dirty, it justifies isolation and exclusion until they are clean again.
How do we hold dirt, humus, the earth in a more positive light…where to return to stardust, to return to dirt is not bad but necessary for the continual renewal of the cosmos? In the midst of our fear and anxiety, can we “ground” ourselves in trust, that the Love which made us, is remaking us still, and will continue to use us “dirt creatures”* in the transformation of the universe? Can dirt be beautiful without being sanitized? Can mud, smeared on our blind eyes, give us hope to see again?
who delights in the messiness of mud,
we pray this day for the peace of the dirt.
We praise you for the rich earth beneath our feet,
holding ancient memories of its time among the stars.
We praise you for the dirt’s revolutionary vocation,
breaking down what is spent in order to nurture new life–
dead leaves and moldy fruit,
last month’s casserole forgotten in the fridge,
our beautiful and bloodied bodies —
transformed into new beloved communities
of flesh and fiber.
We praise you for the inherent goodness of mud,
slathered on our world as a healing salve.
May your gentle hands shape the earth each day,
enlivening the dirt with your Breath of Life.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Peacemaker. Amen.
*When God forms the first human from dirt in Genesis 2, the better translation of what is formed (ha-adam apar) is “dirt creature.” The creature represents humanity in its fullness.