The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
My wife said to me last week, “Don’t you love that sound?! A bit of normal life!”
I paused to listen and I heard the motorized clanking of the blue garbage truck outside, picking up our trash at the curbside. I smiled. Cathy was so right. The garbageman is still coming every week, virus or no virus. Life is continuing on. The garbage will disappear. Trash, tree branches, kitchen waste, and discarded junk — are all hauled away.
Empty trash bins somehow encourage me.
As a kid, my dad and I would take our trash to the local dump in our station wagon. The landfill out east of the city was filled with everything people didn’t want, pushed around by large yellow machines making prehistoric growls. We added ours to the mess for a few dollars. I remember clearly the awful smell, and the flies.
It makes me think, too, of how blessed we are. I have been to many places where seldom if ever does someone come to pick up the trash. Life’s refuse—the remnants of everyday humanity—piles up at the roadside, in the gutters, in vacant lots, behind warehouses. In India. Asia. China. Africa. Central America. Peru. Among the poor of the world, plastic bottles remain, and wind-swirling paper dances to your bedside. Garbage-rot, mixed with the scent of exhaust smoke and open toilets, wrinkles your nose if the wind isn’t blowing.
America is a pretty clean place—at least in terms of garbage. Our lives smell more of brand-names: Irish Spring, Windex, Clorox, Old Spice, and Tide. We are a deodorized people.
We worship being clean. We treasure the pristine.
But are we, really? On the inside? Coming out of Lent, the honest examination time, do I see myself clearly? If only we could smell the broken relationships, the dank pride, the rotting hearts, the judgmentalism. The real remnants of everyday humanity.
If our neighbors’ sins swelled at the curb each week, what would we think? Or would we be hidden behind our own accumulating trash piles? What if our poor choices, oversights, and selfishness reeked outside our homes each week? It is not a pretty thought.
Thankfully, isn’t this what Easter reminds us of? The Son of God has come to the world of exhaust, open sewers, and decay, to offer a way to be whole and clean? Isn’t this the real Easter Resurrection?
Easter is spiritual Garbage Day.
Lord Jesus, thanks for being in the garbage business. Thanks that the whole dirty lot, smells and all, fits under your Cross. Come, Lord, and haul our spiritual junk away, please.
But let us first see it clearly—before heaven’s blue truck comes. Help us to see the size of your grace. Oh, Lord, how we hope this season of separation makes us better people! And cleaner people. In your name, Jesus. Amen.