earth on the head
As is often the case, when I get down to some serious weeding, I am almost belly to the ground and really into the roots, soil and mulch of the structure of the garden foundation. That's a lot of words just to say that I get dirty. I stain my clothes with the brown of compost and green of smooshed plants, grind soil under my finger nails and often even end up with smudges on my face as I must push aside the errant strand of hair or two. But I have never come up with earth on my head. At least not yet.
When the Israelites were allowed to return to their land from exile in Babylon, the few that made the trek found a major mess. Getting their feet back under themselves, so to speak, took many steps, including cleaning out the city from the rubbish, establishing an altar to begin a modicum of worship, building homes, building a temple, building a wall...and after all that, when the scroll of the law was found, they had to look inside and examine their hearts.
And they ended up with earth on their heads.
First, yes, they said "Amen" to the reading of the law, and when given to grief at what they heard there, were told that the day was Holy, and they must not grieve, but rather celebrate in joy, even to the obedience to celebrate the full seven days of Tabernacles. It seems there was a period of grace, to enjoy God's unmerited favor, choseness and love, before fully facing the inner damage of their life of rebellion against God.
Then they gathered together with earth on their heads.
Earth on our heads reminds us what we are made of. It is a humbling expression of our relationship to our Creator. But I also wonder, too, having come from the earth physically, if it is not also a grounding experience. I suppose that is the same as being humble, but I see in it a return to our place of formation--like (and I apologize for this analogy) taking an iphone back to its factory settings.
I've mentioned before how of late there have been scientific reports that bacteria in soil can increase our serotonin levels and encourage a sense of well being. I'm wondering if earth on the head is another evidence of the grace of God---for here the people come to face the truth about their hearts(deceitful above all else), and God includes in the humbling a boost of serotonin. Confession and repentance, at the end of the day, lead to release and freedom, and a clear relationship with Him, unsullied by us bearing up under the weight of our sin. But even this He brightens up for us, with Earth on our Heads.
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