The Humility of the Earth


Readings for Saturday in the Third Week of Lent

This reflection was shared at Sacred Saunter Outdoor Eucharist on Saturday March 30, 2019 at Sequoia Park in Eureka. 

Collect of the Day

O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

The words “humble” and “humility” come from the word “humus,” which is the word for the organic component of soil, the most fertile layer of the ground. “Humus” is also connected to the word “human” since we as humans come from the ground, from the stuff of the earth. We are but dust and to dust we shall return. (Similarly, “Adam” was given his name became he was made from the ground, which in Hebrew is “Adamah.”) One way we can practice humility is by remembering our interdependence on the earth, on the humus. Just as roots grounded in the humus help these redwood trees stretch to the skies so too can our humble connection to God and the earth help us “stand upright” (as we prayed in our Collect). Let’s remember this when we sing around the tree altar the words from the Apostle James: “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” And let’s remember this as I read this prayer titled “In Praise of the Earth” by the Celtic Christian poet John O’Donohue from his book To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (85 – 87):

Let us bless…

the humility of the Earth

that transfigures all

That has fallen

Of outlived growth.


The kindness of the Earth,

Opening to receive

Our worn forms

Into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth

For all our sins against her:

For our violence and poisonings

Of her beauty.


Let us remember within us

The ancient clay,

Holding the memory of seasons,

The passion of the wind,

The fluency of water,

The warmth of fire,

The quiver-touch of the sun

And shadowed sureness of the moon.


That we may awaken,

To live to the full

The dream of the Earth

Who chose us to emerge

And incarnate its hidden night

In mind, spirit, and light.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s