Who am I?  I am dirt and water.  That is no metaphor.  It is a simple fact.  The human body is made of approximately 70percent water and 30percent dirt (carbon and minerals).  That answer may sound silly and irrelevant, but it is exactly what gives me my identity.  It is what allows me to remain a unique self-aware individual who knows who he is separate from the various roles he has had during his lifetime.  It is what allows me not to disappear into any of the roles and identities that are defined by others in my life.

Being clear about who I am at the most basic level, has allowed me to be a better child, parent, husband, Caregiver and whatever else has defined me over the years — and, for that matter, whatever else is to come.

By knowing who I am at the most basic level I can incorporate all that I have learned from the various roles I have had, the various ways I have been identified throughout my lifetime up to now.

By knowing who I am at the most basic level, I can have successes without wrapping my worth in them and I can have failures without losing my sense of value because of them.

Now, what’s with the water and dirt?

When I was growing up, we had a Sunday afternoon tradition.  We went for a ride in the country.  The purpose of that ride was for one thing to enjoy the scenery, see the sights and, in farm country, smell the smells.  I learned to distinguish the smell of pig farms from the smell of the farm on which cattle were raised.  Dad showed me the difference between timothy grass, alfalfa, wheat and oats.

After I was old enough to understand what was going on, I discovered that there was an underlying purpose to our drives in the country.  Dad was looking for property.  He had grown up on a farm, but worked his entire adult life in an office. He wanted to get back to his roots in the country.

I remember when he first described the place they had found.  Before I had seen it, Dad found the place he wanted.  It sounded like a dream.  Twenty-six acres, mostly woods and hills, with a creek separating the larger section from a smaller area of about six acres of flat and fertile land suitable for crops.

When Dad and Mom bought what we called the Farm, my life changed dramatically.  Almost every night of the week during the growing season when school was out Dad and I headed out to the Farm to work in the garden.  All day long on Saturday and Sunday afternoons after church we planted, cultivated, weeded, gathered and destroyed potato bugs and tomato worms, fought against cabbage worms, we picked strawberries, rhubarb, corn, tomatoes, and dug potatoes.

From where did the all that produce come?  It came from the combination of dirt and water.  How did it happen?  How did the dirt and water become transformed into tomatoes and potatoes, green beans and corn?  Yes, the sun was added to the mix, but the sun can shine on dirt and water all day long and produce nothing but warm dirt and warm water.  There was added to the dirt and water a spark of life.

That spark of life was contained somewhere in the germ of the seeds that were planted.  They were also made of dirt and water that had been formed into a seed containing a germ containing a detailed plan wound into a genetic code.  Something triggered the code that sparked the plan into motion.  Molecules of dirt and water were drawn together to build a factory powered by the sun, using a manufacturing process called photosynthesis.

The reason that the dirt and water became the plants that produced fruit made of the same stuff is that the spark of life was added somehow to the mix.  How and why did that happen?

Who am I?  I am 115 pounds of water and 50 pounds of dirt combined with the spark of life.  The result, a sensient being.  I am a somebody separate from every other somebody in the universe.  I am self-aware.  I can ponder from where I came and why.  I can wonder about who I am and seek to discover the root of my being.

That may all sound very remote and esoteric, words having no relationship with ordinary life.  I beg to differ.  What I do hour by hour, day by day, no matter what it is and with whom, happens because this puddle of water and pile of dirt has been sparked to be someone.  It is who I am.  I find it very reassuring to know the truth about who and what I am.  No one can take that away from me.  I may change what I do or how others perceive me, but I am who I am.

Now comes the inevitable question: Why?  For me, the reason I am a self-aware somebody rather than a pile of dirt and a puddle of water is that there is a Someone who has chosen to spark the life that grew me out of those basic compounds.  There is a Someone who wants me to exist.  That Someone has revealed the truth about human existence in an account of the history of God’s activity in lives of ordinary folks during a very specific few centuries of human existence.  The account of that history reveals a truth that cannot be inferred from the physical world we live in or any study of it, no matter how detailed and accurate that study is.  That truth is the unconditional love of the Someone who has sparked in us life, made us human, living beings, self-aware and wired to live in community with one another.  The pinnacle of that revelation came in a person called Jesus, designated the Christ, a real Somebody, who lived in the same stream of history of which we are a part.

Now, what about those of you who do not share my particular understanding of reality as I have described it?  Let’s go back to the dirt and water.  Whatever understanding of reality you have, whether with or without a spiritual dimension, the facts are the same.  Our self-aware humanity has emerged from a spark of life setting off a genetic code forming the molecules into our body and mind, thinking and feeling.  You are a unique somebody, different from every other somebody in the universe.  You have an identity separate from what you have done or do now.  You can draw strength from that.

The question remains, “Why am I who I am?”  If I believe God made me, why did he make me?  The answer to that lies in the mind of God. I cannot know why.  I can think about it, posit answers of one sort or another. I cannot know why God made me.  I am left only to praise and thank God and celebrate the life I have been given.

For those who do not accept the existence of a spiritual dimension to reality, the same is so.  We can postulate our reason for being.  We can recognize that we are simply a part of a process of mysterious origin.  We cannot know for certain why the particular substance of our bodies has been formed and sparked with life.  We are left to celebrate who and what we are.  We can seek to become more fully human.  We can seek to live in community, just as we are constructed to do by that genetic code.

In either case, our identity lies deep within us, beneath the things we have done, are doing and will do.  Knowing that allows us to be effective Caregivers, imperfect, but committed to our Loved Ones.  We retain our identity without despairing that our lives have disappeared into someone else’s needs.  You and I are dirt and water sparked to life.  We are a unique somebody of worth and value, and no one can take that away.

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