Finding Spirituality In The Soil
My spiritual journey didn’t happen in a church pew. Instead of priests and hymns, I found my spirituality while surrounded by seedlings and insects. I found it in the soil. Every time a new seedling pokes its head above the ground, it feels like nothing short of a miracle, and I can’t get enough. There’s nothing quite like feeling nature hard at work all around you to help you feel connected to the buzz of life and all the potential it offers. It always astounds me what the soil can put forth. The soil is essential to our well-being. Without it, we would not eat — but it’s more than that. Soil seems simple, but it’s really so complex. When you hold soil in your hands, you are literally holding life. And even though we often treat soil badly, it keeps showing up and inviting us to care for it.
Benefits of Digging in the Dirt
Most people think of digging in the dirt as plain old manual labor — something to get through or to endure — something that’s looked down upon and worth very little in today’s society. But I cherish it. To me, it’s meaningful work. I always choose to forego the gardening gloves, accepting dirt-stained fingertips in return for the feel of the cool, rich soil in my hands. I welcome the aches in my muscles the morning after a hard day’s work in the soil, and instead of TV, I sit back and watch my garden grow in the evenings, relishing all the work I put in that day. Beyond my mental satisfaction, there are many other reasons why farming and soil can teach us important things.
Traditional Knowledge and Skills
How many people in America today know what produce grows in what season, how many different varieties of peppers there are, or which herbs can act as natural alternatives to painkillers? My guess is not that many. By working in the soil, I also attempt to unearth traditional knowledge and skills that are at risk of being lost in today’s fast-paced, technology-obsessed society. When I’m digging in the dirt, I’m attempting to connect with my roots. We are literally rooted to the ground with our need for food, yet that fact is so often overlooked.
Health and Sustainability
There are plenty of health and sustainability reasons to spend time with the soil, too. When you’re able to appreciate the earth’s bounty and have a hand in growing food for yourself as well as family and friends, you usually end up more excited about food and vegetables and therefore adopt healthy eating practices and habits. The benefits of eating a rainbow are plentiful and well-documented, and there’s no better way to get your fill of rainbow fruits and vegetables than to grow them yourself. There is an extreme satisfaction that comes from eating food you grew with your own two hands. It always makes me feel incredibly connected to the soil and appreciative of what can come out of it.
You can’t really find joy or spirituality in the soil, though, if you’re half-heartedly concentrating on something else while digging, watering, planting, or harvesting. To really connect to our own spirituality, we need time unplugged from our devices to restore and recenter ourselves. While it can sometimes feel challenging to put down your phone, I have found that when I’m as fully present as possible, focused on only one task, my experiences are both more meaningful and memorable. Spending time unplugged in the soil gives me a chance to relieve stress, check in with myself, and really notice what’s going on around me. Practicing patience is a key element of finding spirituality in the soil, for growth is a slow and steady march that one must pay close attention to see. Otherwise, it passes us by.
Whenever I feel distressed, unfocused, sad, or am confronted by a problem, I go to the soil. I pull weeds, prune trees, water seedlings, or pull ripe berries from the bush. I sit down and feel the earth around me, lush and inviting. It makes the world feel big and small at the same time. I don’t need a bible to find my spirituality. All I need to do sit with the soil.
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