Meredith Wade is a spiritually rooted activist and multimedia artist based in Boston, Mass. When she's not running programming and communications for the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Harvard, Meredith is usually cooking, singing, or getting lost in the woods.

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The Sins and the Sacrament in the Soil

by Meredith Wade 02-12-2020

Of course, dirt also tells stories of human triumph and transgression. With one scan from an X-ray fluorescence gun, you can tell whether a soil sample came from Cambridge or Dorchester, based on the amount of lead particulates present. A Ziploc bag full of dirt is also a history of redlining, white flight, and devastating arson, committed by property owners for whom the cost of maintaining the land surpassed the worth of those who called it home. Dirt is an archive of human attitudes toward the nonhuman world — our hubris in thinking ourselves separate from it, though we arose from it, and will inevitably return to it.