Yesterday I was helping in the church garden. It is my first time out this year to help weed. I enjoy going, but my calendar has been full and I haven’t made the additional time to fit it into my priorities. I do know that when I go out to the garden, I will find fellowship and dirt. This time was no exception. Gathered with several other people, (including the teens of whom I am very proud of to see working), we started in and declared that the weeds lives were numbered. Good bye grass plants and creeping charlie, good-bye prickly weeds and wild morning glories. Hello dirt and orderly rows of plants. I saw many hands, including my own, caked with dirt. Dirt caked into the crevices of my hands and packed under my finger nails. The garden raises produce to share for free with the community.
Washing my hands later, I was thinking of the phrase “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Somehow, it always evokes a Puritan-esque woman with her hair pulled up tightly into a bun, and her skirts arranged just so. Contrary to some beliefs, this isn’t a Biblical quote. And looking at my hands, I was grateful. They were filthy. The creases of where my hand was bent stood out like white lines against dirt stained skin.
The truth is, many times when we put our hands in to work they come back dirty. To encourage and grow others, means to not shy away from the mess of life but to dig right in. I need to go find my nail brush and see if I can’t get another layer of dirt off. Dirt that was worth the work.