If you found an icon, an object meant to teach you the faith like a wooden cross or a Holy Bible, broken and trampled and desecrated upon the ground, would you lift it up, respect it and restore it? would you brush off the dust from the bible and take care to make sure others could read this copy of the life-changing Word of God? Would you repaint the cross and hang it where others could see it and be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice?
In Part 1, we discussed that Christ has given us the soil as an icon of our hearts (Luke 8:15), and even that St. John of Damascus teaches indeed the whole creation is an icon. And yet, this “icon beneath our feet” is being devastated by industrial agriculture practices and climate change. So devastated that it is threatening our ability to produce sufficient food for people.
But there is good news here: we can restore the icon of our hearts– the soil– through perseverance (Luke 8:15). And when we restore the icon, we also renew what it represents. Our stony hearts led us to create stony soil, but in restoring this icon beneath our toes we can reawaken love and charity in our hearts. Not only do we make our own hearts fertile ground to grow in God’s word through our prayerful work, but we also create a place that can literally feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. But it will take work.
I promised in this blog that I would focus on Christian practice as much as knowledge. If we approach the process of restoring soil to fertility with prayer and with love for neighbor and concern for feeding the hungry, then this is a Christian practice. One important and impactful way to participate in the restoration of the “icon beneath your feet” begins in your own kitchen. As you pray over your meals, as you refrain from meat during lent, and otherwise lift all your kitchen comings and goings up in thanksgiving to God… add a little bucket to keep your food scraps in. Home composting is an easy form of soil-icon restoration, and very light ascesis. In doing this, we can produce both crops for the hungry and the fruit of the spirit through the same act of restoring soil.
There are many ways to convert your kitchen scraps into useful fertilizer for the soil, whether you live on a large piece of land or a tiny urban apartment, and I am linking to some excellent tutorials. My personal favorite is the worm box, and I keep one in my garage. Our church, however, composts our weekly fellowship meal’s scraps in a simple straw-bale pile. Those who have space, time, strength, and ample moisture might consider a hot pile in their backyard. Some cities have home compost pick-up programs that make things very simple. Although composting is an easy, natural process, it often takes a little fine-tuning and perseverance to make it work efficiently. Done right, compost is quick and never smells bad. Please feel free to contact me by email or comment on this blog to talk about composting methods or trouble-shooting (I love chatting about compost!).
In the next post, I will provide a few prayers to support and focus the home-composting practice, so that it is fully a practice that reminds us of God’s love. Please subscribe to this blog to get updates, and remember sharing is caring!