Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

"What I know now is when it feels like shit, I am being fertilized to help me grow."
--Robert Burney

The Second Song of Isaiah Quaerite Dominum 
 Isaiah 55:6-11

Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; * 

call upon him when he draws near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways * 

and the evil ones their thoughts; 

And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion, * 

and to our God, for he will richly pardon. 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, * 

nor your ways my ways, says the Lord. 

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, * 

so are my ways higher than your ways, 

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as rain and snow fall from the heavens * 

and return not again, but water the earth, 

Bringing forth life and giving growth, * 

seed for sowing and bread for eating,

So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; * 

it will not return to me empty; 

But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, * 

and prosper in that for which I sent it.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * 

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

--pp. 86-87, Book of Common Prayer

I read an interesting article today about one of the problems in organic farming.

As it turns out, 200 years of "modern" farming methods have reduced the organic matter content of the soil in the tillable ground of the United States to near-barren levels. If suddenly all commercial fertilizer were made unavailable, experts estimate it would take 100 years to generate enough compost to sustain all-organic methods of fertilizing crops. It is one of the major things that thwarts us in promoting the development of "community-sustained agriculture."

One of the major components of that organic compost is manure.

The challenge, oddly enough, is collecting enough manure to create that surplus of compost.

It's hard to suppress the giggles over this ironic revelation.

Our modern society has so effectively scrubbed the smell of manure from polite conversation and polite company that we are almost deluded that it doesn't exist.

We no longer live in a world where you can tell country people from city people b/c the country people have the faint smell of manure, thanks to running rural water supplies and electricity to heat bath water.

The major reason we oppose large scale livestock operations such as "meal to squeal" plants is because feedlots carry the stench of manure.

In our common interactions, we live in gated communities, "nice neighborhoods," and engage in polite but non-threatening conversations in church. We try to find God in our own ways in clean, sanitary situations while silently, out back, a giant compost pile grows.

What I've come to discover is that eventually, someone is going to root out the stench of our personal compost piles, or, one day we might look in the back yard and exclaim, "My God! How in the world did I accumulate a pile of crap this big?" Another possibility is we might try to create distance from the pile by flinging bits of it at the first person who manages to come near this hoard of compost.

Ultimately, we have two choices: To either continue to make the ever-draining effort to conceal the pile, or begin to distribute the pile in a way that we can create growth at the ragged edges of ourselves. But if we choose the latter, and plant flowers instead of weeds, there WILL be growth. Those flowers will grow, and bear fruit, and the wind will carry those seeds to places beyond our imagination. Growth will happen in places we never dreamed of.

But it all starts with recognizing our own compost piles, and when they are really big, seeking a community equipped to not only help remove the pile and re-distribute it in a useful fashion but teach us how to plant the flowers, and how to recognize the weeds from the flowers when they are just starting to invade the flower bed and they are hard to tell apart.

I can't prove it, but I am sure of it. I say that simply from repeated experiences.

Let's look at business of community. Part of our inner journey to take the toxic manure in our lives and convert it to helpful compost might include becoming a part of a church community. It is one of the places that is equipped to turn manure into compost.

But here's the glitch: Guess what? We humans, being creatures of habit, tend to bring the manure of "our families of origin" to church with us. We have spent lives of living in "families"--some functional, some dysfunctional--and we have "roles" ingrained in us from those family systems. A fellow named Edwin Friedman has studied this extensively and looked at it in terms of church leadership. But family members, bless their hearts, have the tendency to be able to identify everyone else's manure better than reveal their own. We all do it, because of those old demons of fear, shame and guilt. What we find as the church community transforms us--as the business of living God's plan for us transforms us--that we can't control what others think of us. It is something we have to let go.

A compost pile doesn't work unless we take all the refuse and pile it together and LEAVE IT. It doesn't work if we keep poking around in it and separating it. It only works if we leave it, and turn the whole thing over now and then. We have to let go of control of the outcome. It also only works if we keep coming back and piling more of our stuff on top of it--to continually leave our offerings at the altar. Our church community doesn't work if we only attend when "we think we need it." It doesn't work if we only attend when we "feel good about it." It only works if we keep coming back. Week after week. Good days and bad days. It takes "the others" to help us, and on the days we don't need help, we need to be "the others" for those who do.

It's all "organic," you know?


Very nice and informative post. Thanks!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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