Of Soil and Salvation

by Sarah Shaul

“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up…. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:5 & 7 NIV)

The Creator kneels in the fertile soil of the new land, the dense loam clinging to His bare knees. He lifts a heaping handful of the rich earth to His face and inhales its moist, dark fragrance. He places it on the ground, making a small, seemingly insignificant mound in that broad, bare plain. He grabs another handful and adds it to the first, then another and another. Eventually, He begins to pack and smooth the rough pile. A human form soon takes shape beneath His hands. He crouches close to the figure now, brow drawn in concentration: His steady hands carefully form each hair. After a time, He sits back, dirty hands resting on His knees: finished. His handiwork--His masterpiece!--inspires a small smile of delight and pride. He gently places a soil-encrusted hand on His creation’s face and strokes the perfect cheek, like a mother caressing her sleeping baby. He considers the inert form for a moment, and the smile fades. A sad foreknowledge--perhaps grief--sobers His face.

He looks away and out over the hazy horizon, seeing beyond years and generations another human: a newborn resting in the grimy feed trough of a barn; a boy sitting in the company of temple priests; a youth working wood alongside His father; a man walking dusty roads with 12 companions; a Savior dying, bloodied and broken, on a dirty cross.

Sorrow distorts the Creator’s face and tears fill His eyes. Before one can fall, however, His distant gaze reflects the fierce triumph of absolute victory. His face radiant with joy, He turns again to the fresh earth, the new man, the future hope. A small grin tugs at His mouth. With a final caress, He leans down and pushes His warm breath--His life, His plan, His promise--into His creation.