Rototill the Soil/Soul

Rototill the Soil/Soul May 28, 2021

Rototill the Soil Soul, by Kurt Johnson

My wife, Desiree, enjoys gardening.  So, we dedicated a large, sunny plot of ground in our backyard for her beautiful garden.  My contribution is not much.  I just rototill the soil.

Years ago, I inherited an old rear-tine tiller that was once my grandpa’s.  It is a big, powerful piece of equipment that can really turn dirt.  But that first year we attempted to till and plant a garden it was hard-literally!  The dirt was terrible.  It felt like I was trying to rototill asphalt.

Each year since, we have amended and enriched the soil with compost, leaves, and manure, and removed rocks.  Little by little, the soil has become more workable, well-drained, and richer with organic material.  Every year it seems a little easier to rototill, and even though it has taken years, over time the soil has made huge progress!

Then this year, I ruined it.  I wanted to pour a concrete walkway at the far side of the garden and was concerned the 6,000-pound concrete mixing trailer would sink into the soft garden soil and get stuck.  So, I drove back and forth over the garden with my truck until the soil was smashed down and able to support the heavy load of concrete for the walkway.

Soon after finishing the walkway, it was time to rototill the garden and prepare it for planting.  But I found the soil too hard to till.  It was like starting from scratch, like the first time I tried tilling years before.  The garden soil that was once workable was now compacted into a thin hard layer, and as I tried to till, I realized that I was pulling up rocks and poor dirt from below.

After passing over it several times with the tiller, I became frustrated that I was not getting a good, finished soil texture like I could in the past.  Some areas were just too hard to till now.  After getting jerked all around by the powerful tiller for all I could handle, I gave up.

A few days later, it rained, almost all day long.  Then it rained the next day, and the day after that.  By the weekend, I decided to try tilling the garden again, hoping that all the rain had softened the dirt.  I was able to get a nice deep till!  The soil did not seem as rich as it was before, but it was a start.  And I am confident that with nurturing and care, amending the soil with good things over time will return the dark, rich, fertile garden soil that once was.

From Tilling the Soil to Soul

Now change the “I” in the word soil to a “U”, and my experience can take on spiritual meaning regarding the soul.  Is our soul a place where spiritual seeds can grow? (see Matt. 13) What are we doing to amend, nourish and enrich our soul?  How long does it take to develop rich, fertile garden soil?  How quickly can poor choices seem to thwart our spiritual progress?  Do we pray for, seek, and depend on living water from heaven, like the rain to soften the soil?  It is hard to turn poor dirt into rich garden soil all at once- it requires time, patience, and work.  The prophet arrived at this point in his life only after, and due to, a lifetime of tilling the soul with spiritual nourishment.  But please remember that we can still enjoy the fruits of our garden each year as we incrementally improve the quality of our soil!

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