I collect earth from around the world. Something about the texture of the Earth makes me feel closer to God and connected with what grounds us all. With the help of my family, friends, and students, my collection contains samples from five of the seven continents. Each sample having distinct characteristics. For example, both the Red and Dead Seas have extreme levels of salt. However, the Red Sea is an ideal environment for fish to thrive while the elements of Dead Sea are too harsh to support animal life.
The earth samples have different characteristics based on their geographical origin. Some areas produce dark, rich clay used for a variety of aesthetic purposes including health, household wares, and technology. Other geographic areas produce a fine silt that travels great distances before becoming sedentary. Even within one sample of earth, there is great variation in granular particles. I am in awe and appreciate Mother Nature’s love and ability to cultivate the required conditions for each region on Earth to thrive.
I often refer to my earth collection when strategically planning for any project. It reminds me of all the countless possibilities when approaching new situations. Whether I am working with individuals, groups, or whole communities, the first steps are to comprehend the unique qualities and desired outcomes. This requires sifting through the current state of the situation, unique characteristics, available and potential resources, and conflicts. Similar the Mother Nature, the insight to meet the situation and conditions the way they exist and creates a vision that accounts for desired outcomes and resources is essential. It also requires a level of appreciation to not attempt to put a round peg into a square hole, but to accept and nurture what is there so that it can thrive. As in a sample of earth, there is great variation; the total of which is spectacular in its own way. My earth collection reminds me that diversity and variation creates opportunities and anything other than that stifles the possibility for new beauty.