A couple of weeks ago, my ESL student and I discovered that as young boys we both spent a good share of our summer days playing in the dirt. He grew up in rural India and I spent my early years in a Los Angeles suburb. We both remembered how enjoyable it was to dig and build things—roads, dams, structures. How we added water to transform dirt into mud, streams or ponds. How sticks, rocks and leaves complemented the utilitarian qualities of ordinary soil.
Since that conversation, I’ve discovered that many other men and women remember fondly how dirt-play was part of their early years. Thus encouraged to find other affinities, I have recently learned that an old friend and I both played the accordion when we were younger!
Looking at the tensions among various segments of our society, I can see how common elements of life might serve as affinity-markers or -makers. How mutual discovery of ordinary aspects of our lives could join us in pleasant commonalities or even kinships. How even the simplest of similarities could anchor relationships, perhaps even nudging aside the effects of tensely dissimilar political views, religious beliefs or cultural contexts. How God’s loving hand may be active in this matter.
The idea that people of all kinds could share the delightful experience of dirt-play (or squeezing music out of an accordion) got me thinking: What other perhaps-unknown life experiences do we share with others? It might even be possible that our affinity-discovery skills could become necessary for healing some of the rifts that seem to be tearing society apart.
This idea seems worth exploring: Buoyed by God’s creating, redeeming and sanctifying presence, increasing like-mindedness may be eminently possible in these times.
Perhaps because all of us have “played in the dirt…”?
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