Monday, October 29, 2007

Out the Car Window

It was highway trash pick up day. Those so inclined to participate met at the Krum United Methodist Church building at 8:00 a.m. this past Saturday. Here, we were presented with bright orange vests and large plastic bags. Several people who had not participated before joined us, and were quickly given instructions: leave cigarette butts and dead animal carcasses in place. Everything else needs to be picked up. Stick an extra bag in your belt—when the first one gets full, leave it by the side of the road. Then we divided into two teams, one going north on FM 156, and the other going south. We’d meet somewhere in the middle.

Glorious weather accompanied our task. The full moon was still high in the western sky when the sun appeared to dissipate the early morning chill. The cows grazed contentedly. Trains passed. Cars raced by. We slowly worked out way through the grass, wet with morning dew, the moisture seeping through everyone’s shoes and socks.

Because the team was larger than usual, especially on the south side, a second smaller team followed the first group and was able to pick up what was missed on the first sweep. We enjoyed some good-natured ribbing about the first team’s lack of observational powers as the second sweep still managed full bags of highway trash.

Bottles, cans, cigarette packs, rags, dog collars, gloves, plastic straws, cups and lids, pieces of tire, rebar and chair-rail wooden trim. That was our haul. Twenty large bags of it in one not particularly heavily traveled two mile stretch. All of this represents the dark side of our throw-away society. Don’t need it; it’s just too much trouble to find a trash can or recycle bin; just pitch it out. We do it to trash. And we do it to people whom we find inconvenient or difficult to love. Just toss ‘em away. Let someone else take care of it.

I do wonder sometimes if God finds humanity just too much trouble to bother with. We are indeed, after all, a troublesome and rebellious people. Few really pursue lives of intentional holiness and sacrificial love for others. Most of us are caught in “me-ness,” a place where our own needs take such a high priority that the larger world almost disappears from sight. We ask others to be responsible for our actions and our thoughtlessness rather than living out of an integrity-filled place of personal responsibility.

So what if God has just tossed us out of the celestial equivalent of a car window? What would the world be like without the constant invitation from the Holy One to enter into a place of forgiveness and reconciliation? What if only darkness reigned, and all light were snuffed out? That is the description of hell. But God has not yet rescinded the invitation to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Light beckons. The Holy One calls. May we all respond with thankful hearts.

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