Compost in the Alley

Our home is bordered by two alleyways. The one on the south side needs regular monthly trimming so that our neighbors’ cars don’t get scratched. The one on the east side is our own little English Village pathway to a beloved neighbor’s house. It is green, and virtually no one drives on it.

But the leaves come down and are mooshed into the pavement by the cars that do drive through. It is not unsightly, but we are urged by our local neighborhood association to spruce things up in the Spring.

Ok. Will do.

With flat shovel in hand, I set out to do this job. It isn’t hard, but is a bit back breaking. I suspect I don’t actually know how to shovel efficiently. But there is discovery of more than physical impact.

There is compost.

Rotted leaves and twigs festoon the alley in a thin layer. Like carpet. Like a parade route the next day. It shovels easily. There is even still the pruned poison ivy vines from last year. I thought they would wither and die. Hmmmm.

As I bent to shovel, I was hit with the updraft of mold, fungus, damp, earth. It was luscious and delicious. And in the rot, there was life.

In the rot, there was life.

Little green sprouts rising from the rich soil of spent leaves. Amazing!

Let’s take this metaphor in a direction that is less praise worthy of compost.

When we do our inner work of letting go and dropping old narratives and mental mantras that do us wrong, where do we put them? Like the leaves that fell last Fall, there has to be a process for proper disposal. Some guides and counselors will call this Psychological Toileting. Isn’t that a fun phrase? It could also be Spiritual Toileting.

It is the process of truly being done with what no longer serves us. A move from surviving to thriving that we must make lest we get stuck, with wheels spinning on the slick, wet refuse beneath. The last thing we want is for new growth out of the old mess. The next to the last thing we want is to repeat the patterns that necessitate survival.

Here are some thought for what you can do with your psychological and spiritual refuse:

  • ritualize the release with fire, wind or water

  • write the full story, with full honesty, including the possible “whys” that someone or something did you wrong, and literally close the book

  • go to the person you’re at odds with and tell your side, then listen to their side, then shake hands and pack up

  • leave this thing as you walk toward a new thing

  • and my favorite…..forgive with a compassionate heart

These things serve your higher goals of growth and maturing. We are all remembering the perfect love from which we came into this earth-life, and honestly, we can enact it now. Our intentions set the motion which we follow through with the body. We release, we forgive, we move forward.

In my east-side alley, where I’ve scraped the old stuff off the pavement, there are stains. the compost has left its mark. But I know, with enough rain, it will wash clean and be merely a memory. And next Fall? I’ll get out there earlier, while the leaves are light and fresh, and clean as the season goes along.

In our inner beings, once we clean down to the stains and imprints, we can let new choices wash away any remnant. We’ll be more aware at the outset of potential obstacles to our well being, and clear them away as we go.

With love and a little stinky dirt under my nails,