Sunday, May 9, 2010

It stinks but it makes things grow

We have been combining a house party of friends visiting for the weekend with a very serious assault on the garden to ready it for the summer. There is 600 square feet of vegetable garden and it needs to be weeded, manured, tilled and set for the plantings which arrive next weekend and which go into the ground on Memorial Day.

While my friend Clay tilled the soil I was shoveling hay from the chicken house into wheelbarrows and dragging it across the surface of the garden so that when the tiller when by, the chicken poo and straw was tilled deep into the soil. This is the final of four layers of chicken house straw and I can smell the dirt heaving a sigh of delight with all the nutrients.

As I was shoveling the chicken poo, I was aware how important what dies is to what lives. Be it in the garden or in our lives or in our church or in our families, the things that must die so often serve as the manure to enrich the soil in which the next things will burst forth with new life.

A Canon friend of mine in South Western Massachusetts says that it is usually only when a church hits the final stage of morbid conflict and everything crashes and burns with rubble and destruction everywhere and big piles of poo all over the place - only then does that church rise like a Phoenix out of the fire and ashes to the possibility of new life. I believe that is true for churches and relationships. If we really are living our faith, then we really do believe that God can raise from the dead that which seems to be a completely lost cause - dead, rotten, smoldering and fetid. Problem is, that while we wait, the chicken poo still smells like chicken poo.

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