Union Theological Seminary recently had students confess their sins against plants. This is an admirable step towards environmental justice, but it is not enough. Although I’m sure they mean well, the hopelessly unwoke staff of Union have callously forgotten one of God’s most abused creations: dirt. Dirt is no less created by God than people, bugs, and plants, yet we callously trample it underfoot as if dirt were not a being created by God with inherent dignity and value. For centuries humans have trod upon dirt, dug holes in it, and even used its name in a pejorative fashion, even though God created it and called it “good”. This has gone on for too long.
We must birth new theology that gives dirt the respect that it deserves as a being made by God. We must realize that dirt is a beautiful, sensitive being that has been around for millions of years before humans evolved. We must confess the many sins we have committed against dirt, holding our grief, joy, regret, guilt, sorrow, and shame in prayer, and offer it to this being that has nourished and supported us with no thought of itself. We must teach our children to respect the dirt instead of eating it, even as we ourselves learn to listen to and commune with the dirt, that it may impart its dirt wisdom to us. We must honor dirt for the gift of life and sustenance that it gives us. To be truly woke we must daily ask ourselves:
Do I treat dirt like a divinely created being?
How do I cause harm to dirt without thinking?
What can I do to foster a closer relationship with dirt?
Change isn’t easy; it isn’t easy to put the feelings of dirt ahead of our selfish desires for comfort and things to stand on. It isn’t easy to replace human-centric paradigms of thought with dirt-conscious living. We must lean into this discomfort; wokeness waits for us there.
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