Desire is the soil in which the human heart nurtures the flowering of life. A plant rooted in rich, well tended soil is a wonder to behold. Conversely, a plant rooted in nutrient deprived, poorly tended soil is a sickly sight. One blooms beautifully. Her petals are vast and multicolored! The other fails to bloom. Rather, she tatters on the ends where the bloom longs to be. Just as the blooms in the garden of spring burst forth to give and receive, desire abloom is designed to give and receive. Each are dependent upon the soil in which they are birthed.
The blooms of human desire often flower in the soil of relationships in life or success at work. At times they burst forth from the soil of accomplishment or the warming embrace of a spouse or loved one. Often, especially this time of year, they surge forth from the torrential soil of acknowledgement (expressed in gifts received) and recognition (e.g. Christmas Bonus at work).
What we often fail to see is the vital link these blooms have with the deepest, most ever present yearning of the soul. As Gungor hauntingly intones, in their beautiful song Dry Bones, ‘My Soul Cries Out!’ The core of this song pictures the human experience as one of longing, desire and ultimate loves (follow this link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JJtM6K247w).
Indeed! My soul cries out: to love and be loved! To love the people, places, possessions and possibilities this life offers; and to be loved by them in return.
There is yet more. Much more!
Picturing humans as love pumps James K. A. Smith argues that we are, by nature, a people who desire. In his book, Desiring The Kingdom, he writes:
“At the heart of our being is a kind of “love pump” that can never be turned off, not even by sin. It can be misdirected but not turned off. We are primordially and essentially agents of love, which takes the form of desire or longing. Of course, we are not talking about mere passing fancies. No, we are talking about ultimate loves—that which we desire above all else. It is to what we ultimately pledge allegiance; our ultimate love is what we worship.¹”
This perpetual love pump herds me toward unbounded delight or heaves me toward abysmal despair. The razor thin space between such moments is sensitive to the faintest breath and impervious to the the darkest cornered cries for relief. If it is true that my desires shape me into and direct me toward primordial and essential desires, then such spaced is also monumental.
If desire is the soil in which the plant of my life grows and from which the bloom of my life springs, then the question becomes, “In what type of soil is my life rooted? Be not mistaken; there are a multiple types and textures in which my life might root. Two dominant type that Smith explores (see end note) are:
- Consumerism. Epitomized by the mall and exploited by the Christmas season.
- Individualism. Epitomized by the ‘self as the center’ which tends to both dominate and dictate modern life.
The tattered ends of consumerism are becoming more and more apparent as we deplete the natural resources this good earth provides in our all consuming quest for bigger, better, more. The tattered ends of consumerism’s soil will also litter our waste paper baskets on the 26th of this month. They will reveal themselves in endless returns and exchange aisle and the mad dash for the last minute deals of the year. Indeed, we will seek to satiate the desires the season will fail to satisfy.
The tattered ends of individualism are seemingly noticed only by they who are are most attentive to the nature of community and the demise of civility. The lack of cultural flourishing exposes the tattered ends of our communal life nurtured in this nutrient deprived soil of meism. Our cubicle ridden work spaces and ear phone induced commutes reveal, starkly, our latent distrust of one another. Such soil cannot help but produce tattered, conflict ridden and disengaged lives. Rooted in this soil, we are plants frayed at every edge.
There is yet more. Much more!
There is a third soil. A soil which this season both attempts to celebrate and anticipate. It is the soil of the Majestic enriched by the majesty of One who came to us so that our lives might be planted in and flourish from Him. This week’s readings picture this soil wonderfully through the words of Isaiah 61:11.
“For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.“
Indeed! The garden causes what is sown to spring up. I realize now, more than ever, that the garden of my life must be enriched by the Majesty of the creator of all life. In such soil does life bloom to its full! This will likely mean that I must disrupt – break apart – the harden ground of consumerism and meism. Once disrupted the soil of my life might then be renewed by rich soil of He who renews and causes righteousness to spring forth!
Disrupting to Renew,
“My weight is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me.”†
¹Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. Pg. 52.
†St. Augustine, Confessions, 13.9.10.