‘So what’s got you sitting here by the side of the road with a smile like that?”
My brother cuts the engine on his rumbling diesel pick-up.
I’m waiting at the end of the field, waiting for men working up dirt. My brother’s headed home from his barn chores and a couple hundred hogs.
I roll my window right down, but nothing’s containing the way I am feeling.
“I forgot how happy this all makes me.”
I nod towards the field.
Our men are out there in that field, wearing dirt, and this is who we are and this is what needs remembering and how can I forget?
That we come from humus, that Latin word, us made from dirt, humus.
Us made humanity when we remember that we are but humus, our humanity related and true kin to humility, both from that same Latin root word, us made to go lower.
When humanity divorces itself from humility, is that when we lose who we authentically are, pride always coming before the fall?
“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth” (Matthew 5:5); God gives the earth to the humus-people, the humble ones. God gives the earth to those who remember they are but dust, that their humanity is a gritty, earthy, granular thing, who know they are but a field for God alone to plant good seed.
My brother and I watch them come down the field, a cloud of dust enfolding the tractor, the men, who we are.
It comes too then, what I had read it in lamp light in Keller’s book, had read twice about the humus-people, and had turned the page corner down:
“The gospel does not say, ‘the good are in and the bad are out,’nor ‘the open-minded are in and the judgmental are out.’
The gospel says the humble are in and the proud are out.
The gospel says the people who know they’re not better, nor more open-minded, not more moral than anyone else, are in, and the people who think they are on the right side of the divide are most in danger.”
It makes me happiest here, just staying here, the not-better but very broken here, just bending down. To truly be human means to be humble and that this is the only way to be like God.
It’s in the small places that we grow and it’s in the lowest place there is life and seeking to be last and least is the way to love. There is always value in bending low and getting the hands dirty. The Farmer’s showing our son how.
In doing what He made us for, there is always holy happiness.
“It’s sixteen years ago.”
I can’t hold onto words, the way what moves us can carry all the words away.
Sixteen years ago last week, the Farmer was planting seeds in this very field, corn, and I was in the hospital, bearing a small harvest, seed love made into a bundle of boy. Now the first boy’s near man, working that same dirt with his dad. Years blow fine and away too, mothers writing memories in the layers left behind.
“Already, huh? He’ll run the tractor tonight for you?”
My brother looks over his shoulder, out the back of his pick-up window, towards the field and them cultivating.
“At least for a few hours. Let his dad get some sleep.” I only want to wake up. I only want to keep remembering how to kneel and wash feet.
Before now’s all gone — dust cloud. I am made for this.
When the tractor turns, I can see them both, sitting side by side in the cab, the Farmer telling his boy again what gear and how to open up the field and when to lift the cultivator and there, for just a glance, there it is.
Just the way they move in this moment, they meld. Profile of the Farmer, fading into the face of his son. They look like one.
The seed has become the man.
This one, I memorize too.
How they become like us, how we fade way and they emerge out of our lives, out of our skin, out of our hearts, how they become the humans that we are, and we all only have a moment, but the crop can be for eternity.
And there it really is — One man’s lifetime of simply bending low in humility to serve a child, it raises up another humus-being made in the image and likeness of God, the God who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, and we only raise up Christ-followers if we live bent low.
Our Father parents the parents and how does my humanity look like His humility?
What if in the end, the smiling ones, the happiest ones are the most human ones, the ones most humble and simply serving low?
The dust, the dark humus, it falls now at twilight, warm and willing for the seeds…
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