April 29–Nature: The Power of Sh*t

I admit that the title was a cheap sh*t and an attempt to get your attention.  I want to talk about a compost bin that we once had in our backyard.  Something happened there that I know happens in most compost bins.  Compost bins are places where we throw organic waste from the kitchen.  In our modern way of thinking it’s all throw away stuff because it’s worthless, or so we deem.

That’s the amazing thing about compost bins.  When we create one we are talking back to that mentality that says all of this stuff is worthless.  In fact, by building a compost bin, we composte binare affirming that even this throw away stuff that we cannot eat is valuable.  We know that if we collect it all in the bin, layer it with some dry yard material, it will cook up the richest sort of stuff we can imagine to be used in our gardens and flower pots to support more vegetables and flowers.

And so, into that compost about 5 or 6 years ago, a “weed” began to grow, or so it seemed. Another throw away, right? Like I needed another weed to pull.  For some reason, I didn’t pull it right away, and then I began to notice that this weed had something intriguing about its shape.  Then, I just stopped noticing and before I realized it, this “weed” was clearly (okay, a year later–sometimes my weeding activities fall behind) had become a small tree.  I knew that if I didn’t dig it up soon, it would “take over the place.”  Five years later, it has not taken over the place, but it has become a beautiful tree growing next to our deck in the back yard.  And it is full of peaches!  Because I failed to sh*t down that little weed, I unintentionally allowed what was really a peach seedling to develop and grow into something that now seems pretty amazing.

Nature is constantly moving toward death and life.  She shows us the cycle of interdependence that we absolutely participate in and cannot live without–except that we rarely see it.  We still think of and act toward some people as if they are throw-away, without value, stuff to be rid of.  When they begin to sprout, we think of them as weeds to get rid of or to keep out of “our bathrooms.”  Because we don’t expect them there, don’t recognize their worth as human beings, we dismiss them.  Very often such dismissed human beings–often the young–dismiss themselves through suicide.    Perhaps every once in a while, we discover that Nature has brought forth into our lives the beauty and amazement of the gifts of one such throw-away human being.  How could we have missed it?

This does not have to be an accident.  Our discovery of the inherent worth and value of EVERY human being does not have to be unintentional.  We can choose, today, to hold each one in deep honor especially when we don’t understand what we are looking at.  After all, a weed is never really a weed.  It’s just a plant whose value we have not yet discovered. No sh*t.

Bob Patrick

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