Thursday, July 16, 2009

Composting as a spiritual practice

I was asked to write something around spiritual practices for a friend, Christine Sine. Here is what I cobbled together over toast yesterday morning, which I also played with on my weekly Quick Word for the day radio slot. Check out others in the series so far, plus some of the comments on her blog in relation to my piece, which are quite humbling.;

In recent weeks I’ve been enjoying the spiritual practice of composting. As with most spiritual practices, it has been a mix of great fun and hard work, pulling on the gumboots and old jersey, lugging around big bags of animal manure, tossing straw, shovelling and raking.

For me, making compost has become a spiritual practice that connects me with God and helps me pray. As I compost, I think about my local community and people who are not yet in faith. I recall the people I know who are really struggling with life. I think back over the TV news, holding before God, the life situations that seem bleak and barren.

I wonder if composting was part of what God was doing in Genesis 2. The story describes God planting a garden. Given the detail, the slow and careful pace in the Bible narrative, there is this sense of the garden taking time, sort of evolving. God is the careful composter, mixing love with manure, compassion with planting, dreams of fruitful relationship as life is blown in human nostrils. Reading Genesis 2 has begun to turn my act for composting into a spiritual practice, an act of communion with Gardener of the Universe.

1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that hese three remain: faith, hope and love.

Composting is an act of faith. You place compost on the garden in autumn. You let it sit over the winter, with an occasional turn and toss. And come spring, newly planted vegetables will be growing green and I’ll be preparing to saying “Thankyou very much” over a summer salad.

So I compost in faith, that in darkness and amid the muck, things might yet grow. As I compost, I am reminded that new life, indeed, all life, is out of my control, beyond my action, logic or planning.

Composting is an act of hope. I affirms that in the very midst of autumn decay, through the bleak breakdown of winter, things might get grow, that death is never the end of the story, that confusion and chaos, are simply the raw material for a fresh start.

Composting is a prayerful act of love. To care for the soil becomes for me a practice both of loving God’s earth and prayerfully caring for people. In the peace of my garden I let go, offering people and places to God, inviting God’s power into the dark places of the world.

Composting. It has become a spiritual practice that connects me in prayer with God and my world.

Posted by steve at 06:55 PM


  1. Mixing love with manure? Steve, that sounds awful!…..The garden and the trees were there before the animals were created…No manure in Paradise, I hope…But good on you for gardening.

    Comment by Ingrid — July 16, 2009 @ 7:12 pm

  2. very cool. when i think of how the earth has been treated over the millenia then surely issues of justice have to include creation care.
    that no manure in Paridise comment is interesting though eh?

    Comment by Ian — July 17, 2009 @ 5:50 am

  3. Where there is life, there is always ‘ tutae ‘….Gen 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…Tutae and all !

    Comment by Tangira — July 17, 2009 @ 8:56 am

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