Compost Heap

5 12 2009

I have always marveled at the workings of a garden compost heap. Years ago, on the farm, (following mum’s suggestion I reckon) my dad built 2 large wooden compost boxes, and proceeded to fill the first one with all sorts of garden waste.  Once that one was filled, it was left to rot, while the second heap took over the receptive role. (the sides were made of boards, as the heap got higher the new side boards were added).

The new family directives for disposing of the kitchen scraps became ‘put it in the compost heap’.  It took a while to get the hang of this new idea. It was before these days of green, green, green—the new ‘higher righteousness’ of the human race. Family members soon became well-drilled, and alert to compost heap, and were amused at the whole thing – as the legal beagles kept an eye out for erring family members.

Prior to that, we just put it all in the kitchen rubbish bin, and – on a large dairy farm, there was always a back paddock dump, where most things ended up.  It was always good to make a back paddock trip to the dump —with the cut open topped 44 gallon drums tied tot the carry-all, and all the kids aboard the Massey Ferguson 135 tractor [with multi-power shift], and the dog running beside.

In those days, the 60’s, the 70’s and the 80’s, there was also a local community dump, on the outskirts of the country township – free to use, of course, for depositing and for withdrawals. (Ah, lament, lament, all that has changed now – gee we had some fun fossicking through the old Myponga rubbish dump … some of the locals would bring in a trailer load of junk, and then take almost as much “new stuff” home with them!  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure).  There were spare-parts for old cars, wheels for buggies, and … you name it! But, I digress.

The thing that has always fascinated me with compost heaps, is that they are for the most part, quite static. That is, the contents, just sit there, still. Time passes, and you … hey presto, you soon have some beautiful garden additive. For little ongoing work, this miracle takes place. To look at the compost heap, it is dark, and still. It smells a bit now and then, and gradually builds to a large pile. Compared to sky, and sea, trees, bushes and grass, and animals—cows, dogs and so on—it is not much to look at. To sight, it is … rather dull.

However, the humble compost heap is one of the most dynamic and life-renewing places on earth! Pardon the pun. It is earthy, rich, and full of little creatures—mostly unseen. This little unseen world of bugs and beetles, earthworms, mite, centipedes, springtails, spiders, slugs, sow bugs, ants, flies, nematodes, flatworms, rotifers macro-organisms and micro-organisms is working away, night and day.  Rightly understood, the eating, and breaking down of organic material is one of the creation’s mighty wonders. so much is happening in a compost heap. The larger little creatures chew, tear, grind and suck material into small bits. Especially important are the tiny, tine, tiny aerobic bacteria—for they can eat almost anything.

To sight—for many people—the compost heap does not look much. But the eyes of understanding realise that it is a great matter. The hidden workings are amazing.

The eyes of understanding, for the human race, include the sight of Christ Jesus risen, and at work in his people, and in the world. The eyes of faith-understanding realise that the hidden working of the kingdom of God, is the most important, significant matter in human history.

To some, the church looks like a little like a compost heap—dull, rather static, and not especially thrilling to consider.  Things one can see (i.e our idols), seem far more interesting. However within the dynamics of people at prayer, and in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, co-creator, and ruler of creation, much is happening.

Even when a person has cancer, and is wasting away, outwardly, much is happening in that person’s depths! And in those who are friends and family. For God, is at work, thought many may not see or consider this is going on, night and day. (My Father is always working – said Jesus).

This is what Paul, the Apsotle wrote, of a person’s life given up to death, in serving the Father, Son and Spirit.

“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

In the same letter, he says:  “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

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