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Saturday of Service at Family Service of Roanoke Valley

youth family service june 22-5

June 23, 2022  |  Written by Ben Brannan.


God in the Dirt

On Sunday morning, putting on my robe, ready to walk into the Sanctuary, I realized I still had dirt underneath my fingernails. This dirt was from the day before—YUCK! I had taken 2 showers in that time, but the dirt was still there!

That Saturday, 7 youth and 3 adults volunteered at Family Service of Roanoke Valley as part of the youth’s monthly summer Saturdays of Service. We received a long to-do list from the organization: weed everywhere, pick up trash, trim boxwoods, clip branches, mulch the beds… and so we got to work!

What might we learn from getting our hands dirty? What might we gain as we crouch down to spread mulch? What is God saying to us through landscaping, weeding, trimming, and pruning? What is the ground telling us about ourselves and about God?

As the kids jumped right in, I sat back on occasion to watch them work. Some had the hedge-clippers shaping the shrubs. Others had a shovel, a trowel and transplanter, digging up dead bushes and leveling the ground. Others were pulling weeds. Each one, tasked with an unassigned duty, jumped right into the dirt.

This is where I found an extraordinary connection. God formed humans out of the dirt from the ground, and God’s divine touch remains on the dirt and on us. God gave God’s first created being a name: Adam (which means “of the earth”). There has been, since the first created being, a narrative of life between God, dirt, and humans. As the group shaped the shrubs, we participated in the pruning of life. As we dug up dead bushes, we made room for new life to spring forth. As we weeded and mulched the garden, we joined in creating order from chaos. Each one of us were interacting with different stages of life. Our work that day was the work of the Divine.

What might we learn from getting our hands dirty? There is a life-connection between all living creatures.  It begins in God’s breath, and then it is never just earth and dirt.

What might we gain as we crouch down to spread mulch? A moment of close interaction with the Divine.

What is God saying to us through landscaping, weeding, trimming, and pruning? This is the work of life, a participation in the cycle of life, death, resurrection.

What is the ground telling us about ourselves and about God? Plant yourself into God’s good soil. Receive the nutrients of God’s abiding love and grace…and grow!

So, get your hands dirty. You may just find God in the dirt.