Early quarantine I was buying small bags of potting soil to re-home plants and plant propagations. It helped me focus on new growth. And there was a LOT of new growth happening.
But I was repeatedly needing to pause the repotting of many plants who were ready for a space upgrade. Why? I ran out of soil. I was buying small bags.
So then I went for the big bag.
It was heavier and more cumbersome. I have plenty of leftover that may take me a while to use. The bag takes up some space in my life.
But when the plants are ready for soil, they've got it. There is always room for growth.
Important notes in the metaphor:
1. Quality of soil matters just as much as quantity. If I had a truckload of garbage dirt it wouldn't compete with fresh, healthy soil.
2. Compost is a thing (I know much less about than I would like to) that I'm sure folds into this metaphor somehow.
3. I invite you to unpack & expand it with me.
We gotta buy big bags of soil right now.
I took a walk with my pastor yesterday, and he asked me what's going on in my world right now. We talked through some of our current events. One thing I kept realizing was how grateful I was - that going to UMBC, being a part of InterVarsity justice programs, and having some developed close friendships with Black people - had all left me a bit more ready to engage in our present movement for social justice - not perfectly prepared, but at least primed.
George kept mentioning how these things weren't, "because of tragedy," but rather that I got to be introduced somewhat outside the context of tragedy; Though, I'm learning more how the current racism in our country is a long-standing tragedy only marked by moments of tragedy-made-visible.
Some white people have been shocked awake to the realities of racial injustice - realities that we are trained to be completely blind to - and tasked with a litany of reading, watching, and listening to complete a full self re-education. And to do it right. now.
No doubt, the urgency has been piled on top of the importance. It should have always been urgent. It was always urgent for my Black friends and neighbors. I only treated it as important.
But for the white people without these preexisting awakenings, this is a time of sudden upheaval and expectation. Not that the story should be centered around white people at all; But we have to be a part of change, now. Including those without previous knowledge.
It's gonna be challenging. It's gonna be a long haul. We need to be ready for constant, complicated growth.
We need to buy bigger bags of soil.
High quality soil.
What's the soil? Hmmmm....I think it might be our learning. The books we buy, watchlists we create, people we follow, stories we hear, and education we seek.
...much like these two articles express (in different ways), this is not buying a bunch of soil and then leaving it somewhere behind us once this moment passes. This. is. a. full. replanting.
It's soil. We don't drink it real quick like water. On its own, it won't produce plant life. It's the fresh bed made available for our growth.
The planting of an anti-racist.
You'll start small. Just read one post. Watch one documentary. Don't throw yourself in a massive pot and then give up because you feel too small.
Over time, your plant will grow and thrive and you'll need to repot again and again - new paradigms, new communities, new life.
And if you're lucky your plant may propagate. Your plant may flower. Your plant may fruit.
But, for now, invest in some good & big bags of soil.
Scattered related thoughts:
1. What would the sunshine be? Some plants need more sun than others...
2. What would the water be?
You can only be the plant that you are. We can all soak up some of the same soil, same water, same sun. You cannot fundamentally change the plant that you are. You a white person? Grow into the best white person you can be. You a Black person? Latino? Native American? Asian American? Consider every part of your identity. Grow into the best you. It'll look different from other people. I can't eventually grow "so well" that I look the same as a Black woman. That shouldn't be my goal. We can be a unified garden without all being the same plants - we'll be all the more beautiful for it.
But if you grow a nasty leaf - if you get root-rot - if you're harming other plants - if you're planted in bad soil - best believe you gotta change. We're looking for the right ingredients for healthy plants: NOT to have everyone be the same plant.
Finally, a prayer:
You are the Gardener tending Your vines. May we be fully found, grafted, into Christ. Thank you for giving us our lives to steward and grow. Thank you for the soil you've provided. May we be planted in fresh, pure, rich soil. Dig up our weeds and every temptation in this world. We don't want to do anything apart from You. Break up the hard soil and uproot us, wherever we have hardened ourselves to Your teaching. Thank You for caring about our growth more than we do. Thank You for making us bear fruit for the nourishment of the world. May we, the Church, be Your garden. May we see the full glory and beauty of each other, fully cultivated into who You've made us to be. Your image bearers. Of many kinds. Unified, in Christ.