Compost Redemption


I grew up in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. It was part granola, part college town, part triathlete mecca, and very cause-oriented. The same spirit that cities like Berkeley, CA and Madison, WI share. I remember in 6th grade watching my classmate, Leslie, make a tear-filled plea on the six o’clock news for the plight of the prairie dogs.  Bulldozers were clearing an abandoned field to build a gas station. The abandoned field was home to the prairie dogs. “Prairie dogs have rights, too!” she said with deep resolve and eyes and nose running with raw emotion. We were ecologically minded in Boulder before the term “green” became a household word.

Fast forward several (and I do mean several) decades and now I find myself as a mom of three, and woven into my make up are threads of cause-oriented, save the earth passion. I am, however, a self-proclaimed “light green” member of earth. Our recycling trashcan gets filled twice as fast as regular trash, I use cloth dinner napkins, Tupperware instead of plastic baggies for Julia’s lunches, I bring a personal travel mug and water cup to Starbucks and I faithfully use my reusable grocery bags (thanks Abby and Simone) everywhere I shop. But that’s about the extent of my “greenness.” So when an opportunity came to accompany Julia on her third grade field trip to Mission Viejo city hall to learn about taking care of the environment I was all in.

My favorite station was learning how to make compost. Combine and mix green waste, brown waste, water and scraps of fruit and vegetable discards from daily food prep at home and lots of coffee grounds. Lots from our kitchen. Lots. Seemed easy enough. It was worth a try.

Julia and I returned home and emptied out a large plastic pot and followed the directions in the pamphlet they gave us. Grass clippings, dried leaves, water and then what ended up being a large bowl of bruised fruit, onion skin, wilty lettuce, and coffee grounds–all stuff I would have normally thrown out. We placed the top of the unused plastic green turtle sandbox cover over our magic mixture. The next day we added another full bowl of kitchen discards, mixed it up, recovered it.

And now it sits. Each day another bowl full of discards gets mixed into the muck.

And over time the stuff that would have normally been thrown away turns into an amazing source of nutrients for whatever trees or plants I chose to bestow the amazing black gold (the term the compost lady called it).

This process of compost redemption reminds me of a quote I read a few months back:

“When we grow, in contrast to merely change, we venture into new territory and include more people in our lives–serve more and love more. Our culture is filled with change; it’s poor in growth. New things, models, developments, opportunities are announced, breathlessly, every hour. But instead of becoming ingredients in a long and wise growth, they simply replace. The previous is discarded and the immediate stuck in until, bored by the novelty, we run after the next fad. Men and women drawn always to the new never grow up. God’s way is growth, not change. Organic is a key image. Nothing in our past is thrown out with the garbage; it’s all composted and assimilated into a growing life. And nothing–no “moral, no “principle”–is tacked on from the outside. David at thirty-seven was more than he was at seventeen–more praise, saner counsel, deeper love. More himself. More his God-given and God-glorifying humanity. A longer stride, a larger embrace.”

P. 136-147 Leap
Over A Wall–Eugene Peterson 

So day after day I am finding hope as I think about that compost pile and my life. All those things that I would have deemed discards–poor choices, immature attitudes, blatant sin, disappointments, the years the locust have eaten, character defects, all those things I would rather toss out in shame, my loving Father is able to Romans 8:28 * them into something useful, rich, beneficial. Nothing wasted. Amazing grace.

I have just the perfect song to share, but still need to learn how to add a you tube clip to a blog post. Will post it as soon as I learn.

* Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.