Love and Dirt and Dust

By Brian Carr

Human beings have a profound connection to dirt and dust.

What a strange concept for most of us. We as humans often have a higher view of ourselves that to be related to the dirt and dust around us. If you found dirt and dust in your home, wouldn’t you clean it up? We appreciate clean. 

And yet our history and creation are so dirty

From a cosmological and scientific point of view, we are literally made from dust. Specifically, from the dust of stars. It is in stars that the elements needed to sustain life are created, and when these stars explode, they release these elements into the universe. It is through this action that Earth received the elements necessary to sustain life. “For you are dust,” so says both science and Genesis 3:19.

From a theological point of view, the creation story from Genesis 2 tells us that God created us from dirt and clay. The first human, ādām, translates as “earthling” or “groundling” and was made from the ădāmāh, which translates as “earth” or “ground.” The ‘ādām from the ădāmāh. The groundling from the ground. 

We are intimately tied to the ground; to the dirt and earth. 

Humans oftentimes have a top-down theology of themselves. We were made in the image of God and so we are as close to God as any created thing can be. Everything else is below us. We came from above and were then placed on this earth. 

But in reality, we are a ground-up species. We were created from the ground. We are made of dirt and dust. We came up from the earth along with all of creation. We are not above everything else, but among and with it.

We come from humble beginnings.

And yet we’ve brought ourselves to prideful and dangerous heights. 

In no way am I trying to devalue how important it is to be a human. Every person has immense value and worth, and we were indeed created in God’s image. But this does not make us gods. It does not make us angels. It does not place us on God’s divine council. 

We must realize that we are a part of this earth. We were created in the image of God so that we could work with creation, to work with each other. We were created for all of creation. We can only truly realize this if we recognize our shared and humble beginnings. 

We have placed ourselves above the rest of creation. We have decided that we have the right to use and abuse nature and animals and resources. This power hungry concept has also led us to believe that we have the right to use and abuse each other. We forget that we have all come from the same humble material. Humans, trees, animals, flowers – all from dirt and dust. 

We need to, literally, ground ourselves. 

Barbara Brown Taylor once said “My skin is happy on the black dirt, which speaks a language my bones understand.”

There is a deep connection with the earth below our feet. Something profound happens when we run our hands through the soil. We are connecting to the very dirt that we were created from. God ran her hands through the dirt in order to form us, and so we find connection to God when we touch this same dirt. 

We also find connection to each other, through dirt and through God. 

Learn to love the dirt, because as a wise prophet once said, “Life’s a garden. Dig it.”