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The Dirt in My Blood and My Blood in the Dirt

It took me 20 years to discover the value of place in my ministry.
The Dirt in My Blood and My Blood in the Dirt
Image: Illustration by Rick Szuecs / Source image: Envato

Llevo la tierra en mi sangre.” I first heard Keith Clerihue say those words while he was dying of cancer. He would leave behind a young wife and two boys, and also this mantra for my life: “The dirt is in my blood.” The mantra resonated inside of Keith because he was an anomaly in the city of Denver: a fourth generation Coloradan. His words invited and challenged me to know myself and the sacredness of the places I’ve lived that flow through my veins.

Sometime later, I went on a retreat with a group of pastors from Denver outside Jefferson, Colorado, a small town below Kenosha Pass in what looks like a postcard of our beautiful state. Late the first night a friend asked why I had served at the same church in Denver for over 25 years. I answered, “The dirt is in my blood.”

“Your blood is in the dirt,” he replied, rearranging the words with a new meaning. Tears pooled in my eyes. My friend diagnosed my love for the people and place I pastor and ...

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