The Surprising Reasons To Keep The Dirt Under Our Nails

All summer long my kids have had dirt permanently caked under their finger and toenails. They don’t care or notice. But me, it’s all I see. I’ve tried everything to remove it. Because…

You’ve handled slugs without gloves (always!). You’ve cuddled the chickens. And molded mud balls. You’ve wrestled with the dog. You’ve hunted for bugs in the ground. And held dead crabs like they are treasure.

I insist every night on a long, soapy, soaking bath. Sometimes, if they let me, I run the fancy, pointy instrument on the clippers underneath their nails whilst pinning them to the ground. Or mainly I just throw an old toothbrush in the bath and remind them to, “Scrub it out!”

Still the dirt remains.

It’s grossed me out every single day of our summer, up until recently.

It’s been a long process, but I’m finally starting to make peace with the dirt.

I don’t let it distract me anymore.

Could this mean…is it proof…that am I growing wild?  

As much as I don’t want to admit it, my children are happier with dirt on their faces, between their toes, and stuck to their clothes.

They are never crying when they come and show me a mud ball. They are overly exuberant, beaming with pride, and delighted to show me their beautiful creation.

I squeeze out a smile and give them my best, “Wow! That’s fun!”

We planted seeds this spring and our dirt surprised me with a bountiful harvest of vegetables and flowers. I’ve had no choice, but to be in the dirt, or at least with my face a few inches from it, every day over the past few months.

Kids know it already, adults need to discover again- dirt is the catalyst for abundant life.

Perhaps, it’s why I come from my garden, sweat trickling down my back and dirt under my nails, with renewed hope, tangible peace, and a basket full of ideas.

Dirt doesn’t just play a part of our story. It is the source of every good story we will ever tell with our lives.

Once upon a time, in the dirt…

Summer days are already winding down here. I can’t believe it, but I am mourning the loss of my children smelling like soil, a stinky pup, and a slug or two. I don’t want it any of it to end. The pulling up of carrots and eating them with fresh black dirt still attached to their bright orange skin. The bending low to the ground with shovels and seeds.

It all screams LIFE! Authentic, tangible, unforgettable, addicting LIFE.

Thankfully, I don’t think dirt is ever out of season. We are the ones who try to create the distance.

It can and wants to be a permanent decoration under our nails, dusted on our couches, and smeared on our windows. (Did I tell you I’ve stopped cleaning my windows after a friend, whose children are older, convinced me to stop altogether? She loved the fingerprints back when her kids were young and actually misses it!)

When we name the dirt sacred, we start to see its purpose. It is the very foundation of a wild life, the life we all long to experience.

Instead of trying to destroy it with sanitizer, I’m going to hear the stories it wants to tell in my life…and in yours.

Lest we forget, dirt was God’s chosen and preferred medium for carefully, lovingly weaving us together body and soul.

The birds follow suit. Dirt is the substance of their nest, a home, a little sanctuary for life to be born.

Dirt humbles us and holds our secrets, making it the source of all the best stories, creating a common place for us to gather together as delicate humans, crying out to experience life in all its fullness.

In the end, dirt heals us. An every day miracle. It deserves nothing less than our thanks.

How could we despise its presence any longer?

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