Happy Dirt Day!

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Happy Dirt Day!

soulmatters

by Chip Ward

On Earth Day, we pause to see our place on the planet…and the planet’s place in us.

dirtdaySoil, of course, becomes food if you add a genetic plan (seeds), sunlight and water. As important as that is, food is just one of soil’s blessings. Working together, the soil’s tiny creatures break down organic matter, store and recycle nutrients vital to plant growth, renew soil fertility, filter and purify water, degrade and detoxify pollutants, and control plant pests and pathogens.

Soil, of course, becomes food if you add a genetic plan (seeds), sunlight and water. As important as that is, food is just one of soil’s blessings. Working together, the soil’s tiny creatures break down organic matter, store and recycle nutrients vital to plant growth, renew soil fertility, filter and purify water, degrade and detoxify pollutants, and control plant pests and pathogens. Without these fundamental ecological services, forests would wither and die, food webs would collapse, plants could not pull carbon from the atmosphere, and life on Earth would eventually cease.

Our bodily communion with the physical world around us means that we carry the salt of the seas and the power of a star in our blood-but also perchlorate, lead and dioxins because what goes into the soil can be incorporated into your cells. The boundaries we assign to “things” like uranium and kidneys are temporary, even arbitrary.

It is easy to dismiss process and relationship while embedded in a materialistic/reductionist culture that tells us that soil is not a living community, not the very ground of your being and not the genesis of your own flesh and blood, but merely a medium that props up trees and plants-a “dirty” and lowly thing not worthy of regard, let alone reverence.

Stones turn to dust, dust becomes soil, soil becomes food, food becomes you, and you sit on a stone and think about how very different you are from a rock. To paraphrase Wendell Berry, until we are conscious of what we are, we will not change what we do.

 
 
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