Philip and I recently began gardening as well as composting. I have to admit, the whole process took me completely by surprise in terms of the spiritual significance I have learned from it.
Parallel to gardening and composting, Chloe's tombstone was placed at Lakewood cemetary and I have made a couple of trips there. As I struggle to live fully in this world and be honest with "reality" (whatever that is) as well as define myself as a person of faith, I found myself thinking "how? How is it that I can accept the fact that my daughter is rotting under the ground and simultaneously embrace the belief that she will raise whole and alive some day?" And the old nagging thought that maybe, just maybe an operational definition of faith is "making things up to be able to cope with horrible reality" is appropriate. Then I took a look at my composte pile and my sprouting seeds......
More and more I am coming to believe that all spiritual truths have some sort of physical correlate. The Orthodox Church puts a great emphasis on the belief that Christ's spiritual kingdom is also a physical one and that these worlds are not completely divided even now. This physical world that God pronounced "good" at creation continues to be good and that has major implications for how a Christian relates to it. I think part of that blurred line is the fact that sometimes we can learn a truth from creation.
Right before he shut the lid to her coffin, Father Paul poured dirt in the sign of the cross over Chloe's little body. He told me "she is a seed, Erica, that we are planting for eternal life". And as I knelt by my tiny plants in my herb garden a few weeks ago those words came allive. I had this thought. A plant seed could sit around the house for years dormant. It would look dead, not grow an inch. In fact, a seed is kind of a dead part of a plant. But put it in the soil and soon it will be transformed into a new, living organism. And even the refuse that I throw in to my compost heap is transformed into riches for the plants. If that little seed can go from a tiny, dormant seed to a beautiful verdant plant surely my child can too someday.