The photo was taken from the visit to my friend's farm a couple of weeks ago. As I reflected on this past week or so since I last posted it seemed somehow appropriate to the struggles and dreams that I am working through at the present time.
The picture looks fairly nondescript but it shows a pile of some of the freshest, richest compost that I have come across in a long time. I have to confess, up front, that I am no farmer but, having lived in Australia for over 10 years, I am very aware of the state of the ground after long periods of drought. To turn over the compost with a spade and smell the fresh earthy flavors rise and to feel the soft texture of the dirt was such a wonderful experience. I had never realized that the beauty of this planet could sneak up quite so gently and take me by surprise with joy and wonder.
To the uninitiated this could just look like a pile of dirt but to my friend, the farmer, it is the result of a slow process of reclamation by the elements and is the hope of new growth to emerge again as the growing cycle begins all over again.
I am reflecting on a couple of areas right now. Last week's holiday raised many more frustrations for me than positives. In some ways as I continue to struggle with mental illness and the issues of my past that seem to keep trying to ambush me I find the picture of the compost reassuring in that even the most unlikely parts of the growing cycle can be reused to create fresh growth. The compost pictured uses the cast off shells of macadamia nuts and the resultant compost is now being used for growing pumpkins.
Sometimes as I struggle to stem the tide of depression I feel like giving up on my dream of building a faith community for unchurched people in my city, Newcastle but then I see another analogy for the compost as I drive the streets in my taxi and see the sad aspects of the brokenness of this world. As I reflect on the drinking and immorality that seems to characterize the weekends of a large number of people I am led back again and again to the redemptive thread that runs through God's interactions with this world.
Can God take the problems and struggles of unchurched people and allow them to fall into his redemptive stream and be reborn into new life in Jesus Christ? I still believe that God is in the process of redeeming me and I still believe that God can redeem unchurched people and allow them to experience new hope and new life.