I concede my ignorance. Had I not seen a large poster on my recent visit to Rome, it would have passed me by that 2015 is the year of soils (UN)! I am happy that I came across that massive poster as I think we continue to overuse, exploit and take for granted ‘soil’. In our desire to feed our avaricious and insatiable appetites with all sorts of foods (more than we need), in and out of season, we do so at the cost of ‘soil’. Soil is the heart and soul of mother earth and we cannot survive without it! It is not insignificant that humans are represented as created from ‘soil’ (earth). Our existence cannot be apart from the earth
On a very recent journey back to my land and place of birth for the funeral of my father, all of my siblings (located in various parts of the world) were shocked at the pollution and degradation of the environment we used to call home, while at the same time delighting in some of the sweetest produce and fruits we have not tasted for a long time. But these came from deeper in the interior of the land. For the soil in our former community has been largely spent as a result of sugar and rice cultivation without proper rotation and piles of plastic garbage clogging up the canals and waterways.
Soil is crucial to our food production: but more than that: soil is critical to our well-being including protection from climate change and flood. What are we doing to look after it? It would be reasonable to deduce that both in Guyana and the UK we take soil for granted and treat in primarily utilitarian and degrading ways. We need to have a conversion of heart about ‘soil’ and our relationship with it. Are you aware that only 15% of land globally is suitable for growing food and that it is a non-renewable source and that it takes 1000 years for 1cm of topsoil to form?
How we steward our soils well is also a spiritual and moral matter. But, let us not be daunted by the interconnections between and complexity of issues. Let us see these as reasons to locate faith and faithfulness as demanding us to act in small ways. Perhaps we may wish to consider (as others are already doing) the ground or space right before you, working from there, to gather as a community and grow healthy food and vegetables thereby encouraging a reconnection with soil and earth. This may seem small: but the conversion necessary will come from these small acts rippling out in multiple directions, causing waves.
Forget doctrines and ecclesial propriety: faith is a gift to savour and eaten together and this may be why a table is central to our life together! Perhaps in re-reading that story of seeds falling on a variety of soil we should not dismiss the possibility that life may thrive in the toughest of soils carried by the tiniest of seeds and seeded by the impossible possibility.
© Jagessar April 19, 2015