Since I lived in Texas during these mining years of boyhood, often I dug through clay and it rained, and the hole filled with a light brown, milk chocolate-like water – much like the Brazos River. Worms, unknown bugs, and whatever else would surface in this mess. And we would play in it, turning mining into a war zone and these were our waterlogged foxholes for some battle we were fighting.
A few months ago I wrote about digging in reference to a film where the great line is, “my father always liked digging up shit.” He still does. Maybe because it is springtime and the idea of new growth and soil tilling is abounding everywhere – heck the term “Easter” isn’t a “Christian” term, its origins are in Pagan fertility practices. Lately, it is as if I have watched the plow dig in, the shovel jab deep and turn of this hard soil, to find there is soft mushy stuff underneath, full of worms and rollie pollies. Internally, when my ground is plowed under, it stirs a barrage of questions. So much so that it overwhelmes me, but they, like all those critters we see when earth is dug, stir with life
And still the ground is full of things that were buried there that cause a stink when they are brought to surface. (Probably, a similar experience the contractors had when they dug the hole for our pool, when I was a kid, and found boxes of pets buried in the back yard – in particular my rabbits, eeww!) Decay. Things that were dead and somehow are still in residence in my heart, or sub-c. Since God is a God of life, dead things don’t bide well with him. So much so is this true of him, that even HE couldn’t stay dead too long. (Contrary to Nietzsche’s famous one liner).
I imagine if dirt had feelings, (and I don’t since... well…it’s dirt) it would say this digging and plowing stuff, and kids trying to find China, doesn’t feel good. It would probably ask “why not just leave it alone? It was all set and settled, why’d you have to go do something like that and mess it up?” But again, it’s dirt. Still, though, literally or metaphorically we were made from dirt (that is what ADAM means). I know those questions are real, and I’d rather not ask them because I might not only get an answer, but more digging.
I know plenty of people that not only don’t go here, they don’t like it when other’s go here. Maybe it is because to watch someone else get the shit dug up means that it could happen, it will happen to them someday. Maybe it’s the sincere compassionate heart that doesn’t like to see a friend hurt. And let’s face it, dead things smell…that is why even Lazarus’ sisters didn’t want Jesus to go digging into his grave when he brought him to life.
Regardless, dirt gets tilled, ground gets shaken. Isaiah yells to the people of Jerusalem, “Shake yourself free from the dirt! Get up and take your throne, and stop acting like you are captive.” (my paraphrase) I may be only nearing 33, but I have learned that the dirt digging, painful as it may be, smelly as it may stink, ends with realities like this.
Eventually, I shake the dirt off that is now lose enough to be shaken free, and find that I am not meant to live with such crap that holds me captive. That doesn’t lessen the pain, but it does remind me that there is more, that this is about life, even if it currently has the stench of death in it. And it allows me to be present with all the rolling emotions of what’s been brought to surface, allows me to mourn the things long buried that were never let go.