“But this work of nurturing, of digging the earth and tending the soil, of practicing resurrection, isn’t ‘good’ enough for many people.
A friend of mine, an accomplished financier and real-estate developer, was once chided by a family member for his love of cultivating his garden.
‘Let someone else do that,’ he was told. ‘Your time is far too valuable to be mucking about in the dirt.’
This is an age-old sentiment, and all the more lamentable for its antiquity. The evidence of its longstanding existence is evident in everything from industrial agriculture to the history of the English language. Despite the fact that the word Adam means ‘red clay,’ despite the fact that we grow our food in it and live on the basis of its health, despite the fact that we will one day be buried in it, to many ‘civilized’ people, dirt is ‘dirty,’ and by association, so are those who work with it. Take the word villain for example. Villain and villa and village are all related words, originating from the Latin word for farm—villaticum. And the farm, of course, is the polar opposite of the city—civitas—where everyone is ‘civilized’ and where ‘civility’ is paramount.
Thus do the civilized critics and financiers and industrialists alike point out that we should relegate the menial task of the cultivation of our food or the baking of our bread to the migrant workers or the minorities or the machines so that the rest ‘can get on toward more important tasks,’ like amassing wealth or weapons or even ‘changing our world.’
But I’m no longer convinced by this logic, seductive and ‘liberated’ as it seems. Cultivating a garden, baking bread, feasting with friends—these are all extraordinary acts of enormous particularity, of stewardship, of attentiveness, of care. And if the resurrection is anything at all, it is an act of great particularity, stewardship, attentiveness, and care, and I’m rather inclined to herald and participate in it in any way I can.”