Minister’s comment – August 2020

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Minister’s comment – August 2020

I was fascinated with the article, “Finding Fungi” in the July
Newsletter and the value fungi bring to the formation of Top Grade
Humus. This reminded me of two things and alerted me to one other.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7; The Hebrew word for
man is Adam, and Adam is related to the Hebrew word for ground or earth, Adamah. Adam
literally means the “ground man;” man, made from the ground, dirt.
In Latin, homo means man, humanus means human, and humus means ground. It should be
easy to see the relationship between the concepts of “man” and “ground,” even if we don’t
hold these original meanings as literal, it makes for rich images. Nevertheless, it is interesting
to think about these relationships and reimagine how they might give us a fuller sense of our
creation. Following this train of thought, in English, like in Hebrew, a human is a
“groundling,” or an “earthling.”
Why should this interest us? First, humus is the part of the land that sustains life. As
mentioned fungi have a considerable role to play in all of this. According to Webster, humus
is “a brown or black variable material resulting from the partial decomposition of plant or
animal matter and forming the organic portion of the soil.” Humus is full of nutrients that
have developed from decaying forms of life. These nutrients are the spawning ground for a
new life. Humus is teeming with life. It is a microcosm of the cycles of death and life that are
abundant in nature.
I was alerted to a new thing coming out of Tairawhiti (Gisborne) that of a new product being
trialled called ‘Respond’. It uses living fungi and bacteria to refresh the soil and aid in the
growing process for plants. Accordingly, no other company anywhere use living fungi and
bacteria to grow plants, and this product puts Tairawhiti on the ‘chemical-free’ food
production world map.”
Secondly, the Hebrew story of creation, God made humans from this humus. God “breathed
the breath of life” into this fertile soil, “ti hei mauri ora” is the opening to many a speech in
Maori. I have an image of God holding this dirt, this humus, this substance teeming with life
and death, and breathing into it the breath of life. I realize that this is an anthropomorphic
view of God, but it gives me an intimate image of the relationship between the creator, the
earth or nature, and the created. It admonishes me to remember my intimate connection with
the earth, with creation. It admonishes me to remember that our image and likeness of God,
this image-ness in ourselves, is not to be denied in others. It is good to be reminded that we
are all made in God’s image.
What a wonderful picture as we go into a merger. Two struggling congregations clamouring
to survive in a microcosm of life and death cycles. A poignant reminder we are but dirt,
destined for dust. Yet we are also humus full of nutrients developed from decaying forms of
life. These nutrients are the spawning ground for a new life. Humus is teeming with life. It is
a microcosm of the cycles of death and life that are abundant in nature. Are we fertile ground
for a re-imagined life? We are humus after all!
peace to you and yours
Colin