Congratulations you are an adult, which means that you need to take care of gross things. Those little slimy bits that collect in the sink trap aren’t going anywhere on their own. That stinky trash can is your proud responsibility. And as much as we might wish it, the Tupperware that lives at the back of the fridge is not going to magically disappear. You are a person who needs to take care of that gross debris that is a natural part of human living. It smells. It oozes. It is more than likely rotten. And it is yours.
Of course, you want to do this task as quickly as possible, with a clothespin on your nose and trying to mentally block out the experience. But if you are brave, take a moment to pause. Before you is the remains of life, trapped in the drain in your sink. Something grew and lived on God’s green earth. It had its time of flourishing in the sun, and now that life has ended and decay has begun. For each of us, such will be the future of our own one and precious body, unless it is stopped by flame: to bloat, and rot and return to the earth. We are mortal carbon-based life forms: our road leads back to dust.
Be brave and contemplate the grossness. See if you can recognize in the task before you, the whispers of your own fears: The illness that can ravage. The wounds that fester. The decay that takes things away, one at a time. No one really wants to contemplate their own death, even if we know it is a fact before us. As you look into the heart of this mess before you, may you get a glimpse of the circle that brought it here. There were plants that grew and had their end to fuel its growth. Beings of God’s creation lived and died and their remains fertilized the soil in which this grew. It was the decay of something like this, that made new life possible.
And so it is with us, that we trust that our end will not be the end of the story. We await the coda of God, where the women came to the tomb with spices to anoint a corpse that wasn’t there. As our life continues, our bodies will age, decay, and die. And yet we live in the promise that the last reverberations of our life will not be chewing of worms. We live in the promise that God can take the worst and create something in which new life can grow.
This same mess in your hands is a gift for a plant reaching for nourishment deep in the dark earth. This can be the nutrients that allow a plant to stretch yearning, green, fresh and new into the light. The elements before you can be transformed in unimaginable ways into the teeming stories of new life. And so for us, when we slough off this mortal coil, we rest in the promise of transformation ever deeper into God’s flourishing love. God looks at even our greatest fears, and sees hope on the other side.
May you see in what you hold before you–the nitrogen rich stuff of which life is made. You are holding death and the potential for resurrection on the other side. May you find in the decay before you, compost for what God might yet dream.
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