A few months ago, I was working on turning over the compost in one of our compost bins we have next to our garden at Emery House. I was moving the compost from one bin to another using a pitchfork. I took a deep stab and could feel the tines of the pitchfork slide through something. I lifted up the pitchfork and saw a half decomposed front page of a newspaper.
The ink on the newspaper was blurry with dirt and half of the whole paper had been torn away. I could barely make out the headline and I could kind of see a photo of someone. I recall the main article was about some crisis somewhere.
After pausing for a few moments, I continued with my work and moved the half decomposed front page to the next bin. As I continued my work, I couldn’t help but think how often the so called bad things of our lives end up in the compost bin and eventually turn into soil that can grow something fruitful. What if all the nasty headlines of our day-to-day lives end up as fertilizer for something better?
Try thinking of all the times in your life when you have been severely disappointed by something in the moment, but then incredibly grateful for it in the long run. Times in your life when you have moved from saying oh, why God, why? to saying oh thank God. Perhaps it was a relationship that ended, or a job that didn’t work out, or a college that you didn’t get into. In the moment, these experiences are so painful and seem barren of meaning. Yet over time, sometimes we can look upon them with gratitude. That is an amazing transformation.
Every evening after supper, I bring out the kitchen scraps we have accumulated throughout the day in a bucket to the compost bin. Sometimes I like to think about what if my entire day fit inside the bucket I am carrying. The good, the bad, and the ugly of all that I had thought, said, did, and seen that day. I think about what it would feel like to turn it all over to God and ask God to make the most of it.
I can’t help but think at the end of our lives we will do the same thing. We will look back at all our experiences wondering what we have contributed to the whole and what will come of it all. Sometimes it will be obvious, and we will see the fruits of our labors before our eyes. Yet other times we will have trust in God and the process that breaks down what we have to offer to transform it into something useful.
Today, consider asking yourself what you are ready to throw in the compost. Maybe a resentment, maybe a feeling of guilt over something that happened long ago, or maybe an anxiety you are feeling over the future. Think about how much better the world would be if everyone did the same.
Brother Jack SSJE