Because ”RICK’S BLOG” is always written on Wednesdays, and Wednesdays used to be “garbage day” at my old house, and because I’m always the most sensitive to what God is showing me on Wednesday mornings prior to my writing; I have learned a lot about God from taking out the garbage. What does THAT tell you about me?
In any case, as I was wheeling my garbage cans down the driveway to the sidewalk one morning and I saw some garbage sitting on the sidewalk, close to my garbage can. That inner dialogue began almost immediately,
“You should pick that up and put it in your garbage can.”
“But it’s not MY garbage…I don’t even GO to MacDonald’s! It’s the responsibility of the Neanderthal who either threw it out of the car or just dropped it here on their way back.”
”You should pick it up and throw it away AND you should walk around the sidewalk and pick up all the garbage you see and throw it away…since you DO see it.”
“But it’s not MINE.”
“But didn’t YOU just say that if you see it, it’s YOUR responsibility to change it?”
“Yes….but I was preaching to the flock, not to myself. (smiling). Am I really and truly responsible to clean up after others…after people who are thoughtless and tasteless and lazy?”
“You tell me.”
And then I remembered a “Principle of the Kingdom”: we are all here for each other and, yes, it IS my responsibility to clean up after others…just as it’s their responsibility to clean up after me. It is my responsibility to put up with others – as it is their responsibility to put up with me. Each of us will make mistakes, act foolishly, and leave a trail of garbage sometime in our lives. None of us live in a bubble, we are ALL connected. As a citizen of the Kingdom it is my responsibility to provide for others what they cannot or will not provide for themselves, both inside and outside of the confines of “the flock”. If everyone did that job, we’d ALL have someone looking out for us…that’s the ideal design for the world we live in, and it’s up to the Church to reinforce that behavior.
I picked up the empty burger bag, a couple of cigarette boxes, an empty Coke cup and an empty tube of eyeliner (that WAS mine…just kidding). As I did, I realized that God is right…if we only look after ourselves we have a very limited and unfulfilling life…if we only take care of our own lives we live in seclusion and our solitary existence benefits no one…not even ourselves…and it certainly doesn’t promote growth of the Kingdom of God.
We are all connected, whether we like it or not. Sometimes we mourn with each other, and dance, we share more than we understand…and yes, there are moments that call for us to clean up one another’s garbage. No one has penned it better than one of my favorite poets, the priest, John Donne:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.