After God forms the heavens and earth, and after a rising stream nourishes all the greenery until it sprouts, then the Lord God forms humanity from the dust of the ground.
Humans often forget that we came after everything else. In both versions of the creation story, in Genesis 1 and 2, God creates humanity after amoebas, mosquitoes, poison ivy, all the creeping things, and dust. Dust! And even after being formed from the dust of the ground, humans need God’s breath of life to be breathed through our snotty nostrils.
Why, then, do we act as if our lives are so disconnected from this world that God so loves? If the dust mattered significantly then, surely it matters now.
When I think of dust, images of the 1930s Dust Bowl come to my mind. I draw on Dorothea Lange’s famous photographs and John Steinbeck’s vivid descriptions in The Grapes of Wrath. In the 1910s and 1920s, Americans plowed up 5.2 million acres of grasslands. When the drought came in the ’30s, nothing was left to hold down the tons of dry topsoil. Huge dust storms became the norm rather than a rare phenomenon.
When farmers were trained in conservation techniques, millions of acres were reclaimed as national grasslands. The Midwest hasn’t experienced massive dust storms since the 1950s, but we still witness environmental changes caused by human overextension. When it comes to creation, we often forget our place in it.
What environmental changes have you seen in your lifetime? In what ways have we forgotten the dust of God’s created world?
Creative God, remind us that we are only part of your world. Remind us that we need your life-giving power to thrive. Show us how to embrace humility and protect your world around us. Amen.