Last Sunday a group from Rainbow poured prayers into the church compost pile. It’s something we have done the last couple of years near Earth Day on April 22.
It might seem a little crass to compost prayers. And yet as I moved my hands in the wet, leafy compost and as I smelled the sweet aroma, and as we covered the little slips of paper with this nutrient-rich humus, all I could think about was how prayer so often roots us in this good earth. Prayers grow us as we seek to grow life around us, often producing fruit we can’t always imagine.
In an article called “Fruit of the Vine,” Mennonite Pastor Isaac Villegas suggests that we in the church would do well to spend more time in the compost— “the manure, the waste pile, the places where we’ve thrown rotten fruit, unwanted gifts.”
The church needs people who become familiar with the manure, who dig into our smelly and mucky compost—the storehouse of gifts from the past, and discarded fruit in the present, the unwanted and forgotten and dismissed…We have to open our eyes to the beauty of God’s work in the places we’d rather not step with our clean, white shoes, without spot or wrinkle…Left to ourselves, we’d rather not get our hands dirty. We’d rather live without our compost—make it go way, export it to far off places, out of sight, out of mind. But if we do that, we lose the rich soil that can grow us into resurrected life.
Compost, Isaac says, is one of those places “where we can begin to see the seeds of resurrection.”
And so, our congregational prayers offered anonymously on little slips of paper and put in a prayer bowl, are now soaking in nutrient-rich humus. (Either that or some squirrel has run off with a prayer or two, hopefully communing with God in ways only squirrels can.) And as our Rainbow Garden starts to show life again, thanks to the compost we feed it, so may new, resurrected life grow in us.
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