The Farmer or The Miner

Our family is a part of Jacob’s Well in Minneapolis. To quote Jacob’s Well, it is “church for people who don’t like church”. I learned about Jacob’s Well through a friend and for the first time in my life, I feel like I have found a community that feels genuine, non-judgmental, supportive, challenging and down to earth.
There’s no physical church building. We meet in a middle school or the park near the waterfall or a mile marker during the Twin Cities Marathon because being a part of Jacob’s Well is about the people in the community, not about the space we are in. We grab a cup of coffee and chat before sitting down. Our gatherings feel more like going to a friend’s house to have a good conversation over a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning than going to listen to someone preaching to us.
But this post wasn’t meant to be about Jacob’s Well. It is, however, inspired by Jacob’s Well so I felt I needed to give credit where credit is due.
The message this week, which, by the way, our family listened to via podcast on our drive home from visiting my husband’s family, was about seeing God and our relationship with God as The Miner vs The Farmer and our connection with the soil.
Ahhhh, the soil… a topic I can truly connect with. Every time I step foot in my garden I feel the connection between me, the plants, the soil and a higher power. In fact, for many years, my church has been outside in the soil in my garden with plants, fresh air, wind, rain, sun, birds and insects. It’s hard to ignore the connection to a higher power when you spend time connecting with nature. You start to notice the similarities between the soil, the earth, and us and how we are all intertwined.
I realize though, that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to spend the same amount of time outside in the soil (and straw bales) as I do, so they may not see the connections I see every day.
When I look at plants I see the connection we have not only with food, but also with the exchange of air. We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants inhale our carbon dioxide and release oxygen. How can that be a coincidence?
When I look at soil I see dark, rich life which supports healthy plant life which ultimately supports our lives. Again, an accident?
I see large nut trees which protect smaller fruit trees and plants with tiny flowers attracting insects that attack other insects which try to kill plants. This seems like a plan.
I see support system after support system.
I see birds eating berries and flower seeds only to fly off and deposit them somewhere else. Part of a bigger plan.
I see worms and other insects eating decayed plant material, turning it back to dark, rich soil again. How can this be designed if not by a higher power?
I see soil germinating seeds, growing plants, which produce flowers which attract insects, who pollinate the plants, then return to make honey for themselves and us to eat while the pollinated flowers drop and turn into fruit for us to eat or decay and fall to the ground to have insects and animals eat, to disperse the seeds to start the process again. We couldn’t design a system so amazing!
But I also see soils, neglected, abused, stripped of their nutrients and minerals forced to do the same thing over and over without the symbiotic relationships they yearn for. I see these old, grey soils die and blow away in the wind. They don’t seem to be a part of the plan.
I see areas once lush woods and forested be cleared and mined, left ripped open, wounded, robbed and left vacant. Sad. Neglected.
I’ve also seen trees be planted where others had once been harvested. An exchange of sorts.
We can’t separate ourselves from the earth or the soil beneath our feet. We are part of it. It was a gift to us. And this gift was given with the responsibility to care for it and in turn, it cares for us.
Everything we do each day impacts the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil from which we eat.
Each day we get to decide whether we want to live like a miner, harvesting the gifts of our planet; metal, oil, coal, trees or food from the soil and moving on to harvest more and more, leaving nothing behind or whether we want to be like farmers; planting, feeding, harvesting and nurturing the soil in a symbiotic relationship that will last beyond our years.
Each day we have a choice, but it’s not really our choice. By accepting the gift of life, the gift of soil and everything that goes with it, we accepted the responsibility to care for it like it were ours, because it is ours.
For now.


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