I think God might be a little prejudiced.
For once He asked me to join Him on a walk
through this world,

and we gazed into every heart on this earth,
and I noticed He lingered a bit longer
before any face that was weeping,
and before any eyes that were laughing.

And sometimes when we passed
a soul in worship
God too would kneel down.

I have come to learn:
God adores His creation.

St. Francis of Assisi
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

It is winter now in the northern hemisphere.  Even though the temperatures are mild here on the mid-California coast, the morning air is cool and crisp, and the sky is a deep winterish blue.  Walks in the nearby grove are filled with sounds of the stream having been replenished with long stretches of rainfall.  A sweet smell arises from the fresh soil formed from the matter that once was a carpet of leaves and grasses.

On these winter walks in the grove, a sense of astonishment continually washes over me.  In my mind, the northern coastal winter is season-less, with none of the usual markers of frost or snow.  Yet, within a few steps outside, that mental architecture yields to raw messages around me.  Like the decaying foliage, the thoughts and pre-conceptions crumble in the presence of the pure aliveness seeping in through my senses.

It is particularly the aroma of new earth that frees me of the wintery ideas.  Soil in the making is simply miraculous.  And, for a multitude of organisms, soil itself is a truly miraculous offering ground, sustaining and nourishing life from the smallest bacteria to the biosphere of Earth.  Although soil forms over a long period of time, the earthly scent stirs a primal memory within me of the humble awe of belonging and of being lovingly held in a divine way.

To accept soil as miraculously sacred inspires me to walk a little more gently among other living beings – human and non-human.  The acceptance allows me to remember the pain and suffering of other “soil”-beings who live or have lived, especially those whose essence has been suppressed, eradicated, and/or paved over.  It invites an ever-greater sense of gratitude for the farmers and workers who care for dirt, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and the bounty to feed the hungry world.  It prompts a dedication not to further sully this sacredness with plastics and other products, which take hundreds of years to biodegrade and cause early death to oceans and other living beings.

Overall, soil offers a reminder that the words “human” and “humility” connect through the Latin word for soil, humus.  Whether our faith believes in a divine creator or not, St. Francis of Assisi’s words point to a wisdom carried by religious, indigenous and other traditions around the world:  life is a flowing ecology with a continual unseen web of interconnectedness and reciprocity.  There is a universal trust in the sacred value of all life, even soil. This ground where we live – and where we return as ashes or dust – is the ground of unbounded, divine love.

Please join me in honoring the simple yet miraculous gift of soil.


This practice is more like a prayer of appreciation for soil.   


  • Find a comfortable seated position, e.g., on a chair, the floor.
    • Allow yourself to feel the surface beneath you, especially where there is a connection between you and that which is supporting you.  Invite an awareness of the layers of support beneath you, e.g., the floor, the foundation of the building, the soil, the microbes in the soil, the multiple layers of earth.  Then, invite a sense that your weight is gently and lovingly being held by these layers of support.
  • Scan through your body from your ankles to the crown of your head.  Notice any unneeded tension you might using to hold you upright and invite it to soften with the trust that you are being safely held.
  • Keeping a sense of being held by the support beneath you, allow a slight lift from your seated surface through your torso to the crown of your head.


  • Seated, invite your palms to rest on your thighs with your fingers relaxed.  If comfortable, stay here for a few gentle breaths.
    • Imagine your palms could speak to your legs through the quality of a sincere and honest touch of kindness and gratitude for this part of you that is closest to the soil.  If you are seated on the floor and have easy access to your feet, take a few moments to also rest your hands on your feet before returning them to your thighs.
      • Notice any shift in the muscles in your thighs as you let your own hands gently rest on your legs.  (Note: If for any reason you feel any aversion toward this part of the practice, please feel free to skip it, and to make any adjustments you feel you need to.)
  • Standing, pause and once again invite a connection to the surface beneath you.  If comfortable, trace through the cues in the “prepare” section above. (Note: If standing is not accessible to you, please skip this standing portion.)
  • Slowly begin to walk in a smallish circle clockwise.  Walk for a couple minutes, or as long as is comfortable for you.
    • Imagine you are stepping on the skin of a living being whom you adore and who adores you.  This being is the soil and can handle you weight but treasures the chance to commune with you – and adore you – through your feet and footsteps.  Invite your breath to be easeful as you walk together with the earth.
  • Return to a seated position.  Silently acknowledge the soil, all life forms, and the gift of communing through your feet and lower body with the earth.
    • I offer these words for your inspiration: “I acknowledge the soil.  I acknowledge the soil’s endless capacity to hold and nourish me.  I offer gratitude to all those who protect and care for the soil – e.g., the small farmers, farm workers, gardeners – and endeavor to do my part in caring for the soil in the way it cares for life.   I revel in and honor the belongingness of all beings sustained and nourished by the soil.   And, I acknowledge my digestive system and its ability to receive and digest the offerings of the foods from the soil.   I am grateful for my feet and legs and my ability to stand and to make choices to do the least harm possible.  I offer reverence to the Divine for these gifts.”

Transition Back into Your Day—

  • Sit quietly for a few moments, with the eyes and ears tuned inward.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.


The  poem by St. Francis of Assisi appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 94, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   The practice is a modified version of a practice in “Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry” by Kate Vogt, page 341-43, available through Bookshop, or order through your local independent bookstore.
H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2022.  Please visit katevogt.com for my current and upcoming groups and classes.



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