The following Lenten reflections come from a chapter entitled “Garbage Day” from an unpublished devotional book of mine exploring the deeper realities of faith through the daily routines of life (read more about my “Sacred Analogies”). This chapter explores the reality of the spiritual garbage (i.e., sin) in our souls and why we need to regularly take out the trash. This is a fitting topic for the season of Lent. Please enjoy! JB
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” as the old adage goes. The saying has taken on a whole new meaning for Brian Scudamore, founder and owner of the multi-million dollar business 1-800-GOT-JUNK? In 1989, Scudamore dropped out of his last year of college to start his junk removal business with only $700 and an old beat up truck. A decade and a half later, the company expects to reach 250 franchise partners and profit $100 million by December 31, 2006. Only in a society as affluent and wasteful as America can a person make millions hauling away others’ unwanted garbage! The amount of personal waste is quite mind-boggling. Take San Francisco for example. California’s Integrated Waste Management Board reports that the average San Francisco resident generates 2 pounds of garbage per day. When you add in business waste the number increases to 7 pounds of garbage per person per day. That’s a whole lot of nothing! Dumpsters in America reach their peak capacity during the Holiday season. Lisa Margonelli paints a picture of the super-abundance of trash this time of year:
January is a busy month for junk. Start with the 38,000 miles of ribbon Americans use during December and work your way back. There’s 25 million tons of extra holiday garbage, including turkey carcasses, cardboard FedEx boxes and enough Christmas cards to fill a football field 10 stories high. And there are all the new gifts that need somewhere to go, so the old ones must be removed.
Clearing out the old to make room for the new. That’s the name of the game. What spiritual insight can be gained by sorting through life’s trash?
THE JOB NOBODY WANTS
Getting the mail is a walk in the park compared to the drudgery of taking out the trash. It smells. Trash bags rip and spill the week’s refuse all over the floor. Even worse, sometimes a small leak allows garbage juice to ooze down your leg as you scurry toward the door. You walk to the dumpster and lift the lid, almost collapsing from the smell. You toss the bag over the side, wipe your hands, and gratefully walk away from the most thankless of household chores. Garbage-we all have it. It is a necessary by-product of life. Things get used and things go to waste. We have to keep a check on the waste in our lives or things can pile up. The garbage truck comes once a week and hauls all of our rubbish away. Yet, forget to put it out some week and soon you have a problem. Smelly bags begin to pile up in the garage until the entire house begins to smell. Few ordinary tasks of life “stink” as much as taking out the garbage. But, much like waking up, getting dressed, driving the car and getting the mail, garbage duty is an indispensable part of life. Nobody enjoys doing it, but nobody can avoid it-at least for too long! The life of Christian discipleship is “littered” (forgive the pun) with its own challenges in waste management. So, what can taking out the garbage teach us about Christian discipleship? Stay tuned…
NEXT: “The God Who Recycles”
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