Reprise – I Am But a Worm – Part 1

— by Andy Wade —
(this post first appeared in January, 2013)

vermicompostingWhat a lowly and despised animal, the worm. Oh that I could live into it’s virtues! You might guess that I’m thinking about the garden again, and why not? It’s a sunny mid-January day and I’m looking out over my frozen garden. What appears at first to be frozen and dead is actually teaming with life. When I’m spiritually discouraged it’s most often when I look at my life as a frozen tundra rather than one, just below the surface, teaming with life. Do you ever get that way?

I’m also thinking about worms because I vermicompost. Using thousands of lowly worms, our kitchen waste (what’s not eaten by the chickens) is devoured by these amazing workers and turned into “black gold”, nutrient rich, and rich with beneficial micro-organisms. Worms are so effective at what they do they are now being used to breakdown heavy metals and other industrial waste:

The worms’ digestive system is apparently capable of detaching heavy metal ions from the complex aggregates between these ions and humic substances in the waste as it rots. Various enzyme-driven process then seem to lead to assimilation of the metal ions by the worms so that they are locked up in the organism’s tissues rather than being released back into the compost as worm casts. The separation of dead worms from compost is a relatively straightforward process allowing the heavy metal to be removed from the organic waste.

The garden is my sanctuary. I find prayer and meditation comes easily for me when my hands are sunk deep in the soil. I’m reminded that “out of dust I was created and to dust I shall return” Gen. 3:19. Although we no longer live under the curse when we live in Christ, it’s a good reminder that my physical existence is directly connected to the earth, created yet God-breathed into life.

So I plant seeds and wait, wait to see what God will bring forth. In a similar way, God plants a seed in me and waits, waits for me to bring forth fruit. If I am too busy to tend the garden, to water, to weed, to add rich, life-giving compost, my seeds will die or the fruit will not mature. The same is true of my life in Christ – a life that needs constant tending, nurturing, watching and waiting. (Did you see Tom Sine’s posts about spiritual disciplines in the new year?) Of course all of this brings to mind Jesus’ parable of the sower: (explained: Lk. 8:11-15)

“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen! Lk. 8:5-8

In my garden sanctuary I reflect on the written word of God and how it’s taking root in my life (or not). Am I becoming more like Jesus in my dealings with others? Sometimes yes. Often times there are some pretty nasty weeds that need to be pulled. But then I return to this lowly worm and wonder, how can I, like this amazing yet simple creature formed by the hand of God, become one who transforms the garbage in life into life-giving nutrients for the people around me?

Are you a gardener?

  • How do you learn from God in the garden?
  • Are there specific things you do or special ways you’ve organized/created you garden to cultivate spiritual awareness in the garden?

I’d enjoy hearing your stories!

And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Christine’s wonderful book, To Garden With God!


This spring and summer Christine Sine and I will be leading “The Spirituality of Gardening” workshops. Christine’s first workshop is scheduled for May 18th in Seattle. If you’re interested in hosting a workshop in your area, please contact us soon – the calendar is filling up fast!