Recently I spent a week with a group of like-minded souls–Hearts on Fire, Spiritual Directors from the United Methodist Church (to the uninitiated, that’s Episcopalian-Lite)–at a retreat center one hour northwest of Minneapolis. Our theme: tending the tension between doing and being.
The metaphor was dirt (or soil, if you want to sound well-bred). Everyone was asked to bring a Ziploc baggie filled with dirt from his or her backyard. Some looked dark and fertile, others sandy and rocky. Regardless, count me in. Because when you’re talking dirt, you’re talking my language.
Whenever I visit anyone’s home, I wander around the yard or land or patio, looking for plants and surprises. And I always plunge my hands into the dirt to smell it, squeeze it; drawing puzzled and mystified stares.
“What in the hell are you doing?” One friend asked, embarrassed, when he found me digging around at the home where we had gone for a social gathering.
“Talking to the dirt,” I told him.
“How many drinks have we had?” He asked with a smile reserved for unmanageable children.
Then it occurred to me: you have to be a little looped to be a good gardener. You see the world askew from most folks. But it’s an advantage. And besides, the alternative–to be at the mercy of public opinion–doesn’t work out so good. [Read more…]