Place to Empty –
This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.
Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.
Full of Junk –
Today is President’s Day. I wish I would’ve remembered that before this afternoon. The last few weeks have been rough weather wise. Cold, rainy, windy and our trash has piled up in the bin outside. Finally, today, it was dry enough to put the all the trash in the back of the truck and take it to the Refuse and Recycle Center. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do it before meeting with some fathers today so it sat in the back of the truck until afternoon. My truck looked like Sanford and Son. After finishing up my appointments I headed to the dump. I was almost there and thankful to get rid of the trash. Then, to my disbelieving eyes, the gates were closed and it dawned on me; “President’s Day.” It was a holiday and county employees weren’t working today. My truck would stay loaded down until tomorrow. “Grrrr!” and “Sigh.”
“Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.” Easy sentence to write a hard sentence to live. We are surrounded by many negative things which can be like anchors to our spirits. Violence, injustice, racism, sexism, bigotry, and all sorts of evil that threaten to permeate our souls. We must be careful, watchful, mindful to not allow this corruption of creation to become a part of us, absorb us, soak up our existence and make us apart of what we should be fighting against.
I drove to the dump today on my way to a meeting. When I opened the door the stench of heat, humidity and heaps of garbage smacked me in the face. As quick as I could I deposited my trash into the container and left. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a dump in the middle of July. I’ve lived in a lot of places but the dumps in July seem to share the same aroma no matter where I’m at. To put it delicately, they all have an unpleasant smell, or they stink!
I was talking with someone this week about unpleasant people and the way they try our nerves, disturb our stillness and negatively impact our lives. We all have those people in our life, those folks whose attitude, demeanor, demands and difficult ways give off an unpleasant aroma.
How we handle these foul folks reveal more about us than they do the other person. It’s easy to respect someone who respects us, compliment those who say nice things, return kind gestures and empathize with those who care. However, for the ones who stink it’s easier to get in and out of their presence as quickly as possible and avoid if doable.
To respect, speak kindly, act generously and care for these smelly ones takes a conviction in the deepest part of ourselves that gracious, grace-giving, living isn’t about the other person, it’s about who we are and want to be.
In the Dumps –
Today, as we were eating lunch, I heard what sounded like rain hitting the tin roof of the porch. I knew it couldn’t be rain because apparently, it doesn’t rain in Tennessee any longer (sarcasm, but it’s been a long dry fall after a long dry summer).
The noise continued so when we finished our meal Beth and I went out onto the porch to look around. We discovered that the large Oak tree over-hanging it was filled with birds, we assume migrating, who’d decided to take a break from their travels and decorate the tin with their droppings. Lovely. I yelled; “Go! Go! Go!“, clapped my hands and they dispersed only to come back around about an hour later. Sigh.
As I reflected on the bird poop, yes, you truly can reflect upon anything, I thought about how sometimes, out of the blue, life can take a dump on you. I don’t mean to be crass but not sure how to say it differently. You do your best to avoid it, seek shelter, perhaps even stop it for a brief time but in the end, you’re still covered in gunk, your life is a mess, and you’re left wondering; “What happened?”
Wisdom reminds us even bad seasons of life have a stopping point. When it’s over, you clean yourself off, look above, thankful for the clear, blue skies and keep moving forward.
No Matter How Slow –
My pickup truck was full and almost overflowing today on the way to the county dump. I drove slowly for fear of losing some of my load and hoped no one in a hurry came zooming up behind me. The nearest refuse and recycling center is only three miles from our house but it took an extra long time to get there. As I kept one eye on the road and the other on the junk in the bed of the truck I reflected on things in our life that we need to get rid of that slow us down on our journey of life.
There’s something about going to the dump that’s cathartic. As I kept one eye on the road and the other on the junk in the bed of the truck I reflected on things in our life that we need to get rid of that slow us down on our journey of life. The hurts, habits, hangups, shallowness, selfishness, sinfulness we all have and need to unload so we can navigate our way to grace, love, peace, kindness, acceptance and contentment. Our human drive for perfection tries to convince us that we get rid of the refuse as quickly as possible but most times it doesn’t work that way and we must carry parts of our load longer than we’d prefer.
When I arrived at the center the gates were closed and they were changing out the large canister where I needed to put my junk. I waited and waited for almost thirty minutes. Finally, the center reopened and I was able to unload. As I threw away the last of the unwanted stuff and hopped back in the truck it was a relief to not have to go so slow, worry about the extra stuff and made it home much faster.
Plato teaches; “never judge another’s progress, no matter how slowly.” I like this quote, especially on days when the going is slow, the delays are many and the junk keeps piling up.
On Saturday I pulled into the county dump with one trash can filled with household garbage and one filled with outdoor refuse. I emptied one into the household dumpster bin and noticed, as I was pulling over to the bin for outdoor trash, a couple of folks shoving several pieces of furniture into it. It was full and overflowing and a county employee was beginning to close the dumpster door. For a moment I wondered where to put my trash but the man trying to close the door to the full one had already opened another bin.
As I emptied my trash into an barren dumpster I thought about how some folks dump their refuse onto us until we are full and overflowing. Sooner or later we must close the door and say; “No more!” I also reflected on others who open their lives, allowing us to empty our burdens, rubbish and troubles onto them giving us a place of relief and release.