To Till the Ground


. . . therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.
     — Genesis 3:23

It is both a curse and a blessing,
to till the ground from which we are taken.

It is a curse because it is hard, hard work.
Pain is involved,
effort that seems beyond our reach.
A note of desperation can easily creep in,
a feeling that we are struggling in a place where
the boundary between life and death is thin,
and that there is potential
of not making it,
of dying here.

By the sweat of our faces
we till our ground,
weeping the tears of generations,
alternately looking and hiding our eyes,
swinging between wanting to learn
that which the churned-up soil has to offer,
and praying it will end soon.

That is the curse.
But the curse is a blessing.

Soil is of the moment.
It is right now.
Soil holds within it all that has been added,
up to the present time.
Whatever is there, is there.
Whatever is not there, is not there.
In the moment in which it is encountered,
soil cannot be changed.

To till the ground from which we were taken
is to hold our soil, our truth,
in our grasp,
to feel handfuls of reality, firm and solid.

To till the ground from which we were taken
is to gather up into our hands
all our past,
including the parts we are afraid of,
the parts we thought might destroy us —
to expose it to air and light,
to allow the bound-up heat from long ago to flame up . . .

to wait,
to stay,
to trust . . .

that as the fire dies down,
there will come softly to the soul
the arising of grace,
bubbling up quietly from a secret and holy spring,
soothing the burns, washing the tear-streaks,

The breath of life from God
permeates the soil from which we were made.
Nothing is condemned to remain
outside this blessing.
No part of us exists outside the reach
of God’s healing touch.

Be not afraid.

Amidst the very dust
from which we were taken
can be traced
the fingerprint
of God.

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