Monday, December 24, 2018

What else was in that stable?

Nativity at Night by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1490.
As with everything else these days, people debate whether Jesus was born in a manger or in a house. This is because the accounts in Matthew and Luke use different words.

Whatever. The point is that the King of Kings was born in very humble circumstances. The word humble means "submissive, respectful, lowly in manner, modest, not self-asserting, obedient." Sounds about right.

The word came from the Old French humble, umble, earlier umele, from Latin humilis "lowly, humble," literally "on the ground," from humus "earth."

So in addition to Mary, Joseph and the Christ child, what else was lurking in that stable?

Imagine a pinch a soil that weighs no more than a paper clip. That soil contains:
  • 3,000,000 to 500,000,000 bacteria
  • 1,00,000 to 20,000,000 actinomycetes
  • 5,000 to 1,000,000 fungi
  • 1,000 to 500,000 protozoa
  • 1,000 to 500,000 algae
  • 10 to 5,000 nematodes
Not only do soil microorganisms nourish and protect plants, they play a crucial role in providing many “ecosystem services” that are absolutely critical to human survival. 
By many calculations, the living soil is the Earth’s most valuable ecosystem, providing ecological services such as climate regulation, mitigation of drought and floods, soil erosion prevention, and water filtration, worth trillions of dollars each year.  
Those who study the human microbiome have now begun to borrow the term “ecosystem services” to describe critical functions played by microorganisms in human health. Some researchers believe that the alarming increase in autoimmune diseases in the West may owe to a disruption in the ancient relationship between our bodies and their ‘old friends’ — the microbial symbionts with whom we coevolved.
The miracle of creation flourishing in that stable. 

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