Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain,
flourishing and yielding thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.
When was the last time you bared your soles to grace the ground?
Daily, we tread
a lush, living carpet.
Upon this thin floor
of muddy vitality
the elements of our existence depend.
What disdainfully we call dirt
(as in dirty) or soil (as in soiled)
is actually the miracle beneath!
People usually consider walking on water or air a miracle.Thich Nhat Hanh
But the real miracle is not to walk either on water or thin air, but to walk on earth.
Our scriptural name
“ADAMAH” or “grounded one”,
describes our earthy roots.
“Human” reflects humble origins,
for we are “humus-beings,”
earthlings realized from sacred soil.
From dirt, Holy One formed “Adamah,” blowing breath of life into its nostrils.Genesis 2:7
Dirt is no dead thing.
Each topsoil ounce holds countless communities,
billions of invisible microorganisms.
One in four forms of life
on our planet
thrives in the dank recesses beneath our soles.
Unseen and unknown decomposers
recycle the necessary elements of life
till even deserts bloom in their season.
Earth purifies water, absorbs waste,
and welcomes us back
to remake our husk into a life-giver.
Source of nourishment,
sacred soil provides raw material for reality,
and cradles the bones of our ancestors.
Humble CrumbleJoe Grant, Scratchings
Tread gently the soil.
Beneath your feet, loved-ones sleep,
after years of toil.
When walking the woods,
for the recovery of soul,
I cast my gaze upon leafy litter scattered about me.
Such mucky miracles, earthy wisdom, loamy lessons,
fruits and seeds of innumerable seasons,
strewn at my feet.
Earth’s crammed with heaven,Elizabeth Barret Browning
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
While briefly living along the Amazon,
I was awed by immeasurable companies of crawlers
that cover every available centimeter of forest floor.
To this day, the aroma of wet leaves
carries me back
to Amazonian epiphanies—
from our insect planet
rooted in a film of mud,
every imaginable form of breathing life erupts;
from towering mahogany to scarlet macaws;
known and named only by indigenous (landed) peoples.
In our fleeting lifespan we are gifted
with a multitude of graces
in three dimensions.
Illumined Grace gasps in wonder;
at sunsets, ocean vistas,
misty mountain peaks.
Dark Grace visits
in the panged embrace of suffering,
letting go and losing all we hold dear.
mixed into the messy busyness of living—
presents bounty revealed to the lowly, who are close to the ground.
It is left to mystics, prophets, poets, andJoe Grant, Scratchings
primal communities to re-mind us of the hallowed
ground upon which every sole stands and the
animating air that fills the lungs of each holy,
With dusty hands and muddy feet,
let gratitude erupt for the blessing of being holy humus,
graced to walk humbly this goodly garden.
Text and Images by Joe Grant © 2021
Scratchings by Joe Grant provides a fascinating journey showing the extraordinary wisdom and beauty found in the most ordinary of events. While appreciating events such as the beauty of a leaf falling and the often-unnoticed activities in the backyard of his inner city neighborhood, the journey also takes us far and wide from his childhood in Scotland, to his mission experience in the Amazon rainforest, and even to the site of genocidal massacre in Rwanda. Each episode draws the reader in with exquisite language and creates a picture that engages the imagination. The word play, rhyming, cadence and alliteration are delightful and evocative.
In a powerful section of his book called Epiphany, Joe reflects on the in-breaking moments of graced awareness:
To the awakened,
every sunrise is a first
brilliant blush of brand-new creation
each frigid breath suspended,
a sacramental exhalation
in conspiration of
He goes on to write, “sometimes a singular ray pierces perception to jolt us into wakefulness with a radiant revelation that all ground is hallowed.”
This beautiful book is for me a meditation on our amazing yet troubled world. Joe’s book helps me to see the sacred mysteries which are all around us.
The Rev. Karl Ruttan, Ph.D., Episcopal priest and spiritual director