Monday, December 12, 2011

Cleaning Up - den Boer

One gusty, grey, garbage-day morning while waiting patiently in the van in the driveway for Angela and Allison so I could drive them to school, I noticed some of the garbage from the townhouses across the road had blown into the middle of the intersection next to our home.

I had an urge to run out and pick up this garbage, but I noticed a garbage man in a reflector vest pacing on the other side of the road apparently waiting for traffic to subside so he could do it.

Then I realized he didn’t intend to pick up the garbage; he was merely watching it. Now why would that be? Maybe the garbage people were fed up with the way garbage was always allowed to blow around. Maybe this was evidence for a supervisor to behold.

On the drive to the girls’ school and home again, I pondered the garbage situation. I came to the conclusion that the only neighbourly thing to do would be to pick up that garbage myself.

Sure enough when I came back to the intersection, the garbage was still in the middle of the road, but now a garbage truck was parked right beside it—and not a garbage man in sight. There was hardly room for my vehicle to drive by.

I parked the van, then marched into the intersection where I picked up a Tide box and a much larger box. For boxes that had blown out onto the road, they were surprisingly heavy. In fact, I noticed they were packed with garbage, but I doggedly carried them to the sidewalk.

“Ma’am, ma’am. What are you doing?” I heard as I heaved the Tide box onto the garbage pile in front of the townhouses where I was sure it had come from. I was about to drag the larger box over as well.

“I’m cleaning up,” I proclaimed indignantly. “There is no reason to keep garbage in the middle of the road.”

“Yes, there is, ma’am,” he explained patiently. “We spilled hydraulic fluid here. Our line sprang a leak. If a car drives over that it could cause a serious accident.”

“Oh sorry,” I mumbled as I dropped the big heavy make-shift pylon back onto the road. For the first time I noticed the slippery oily fluid all over my hands.

When I got home I had to scrub my hands and wash both my coat and pants.

Moral of the story: don’t be too quick to judge other people’s garbage.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4)

How often do we as good Christian citizens judge and try to clean up someone else’s garbage? What we judge as garbage may really be pylons. Wouldn’t it be better to come alongside? Be a friend. Listen. Find out what’s really needed. Offer to be available. That way we’re less likely to end up with oily goo all over ourselves.

Excerpt from the book Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress.  by Marian den Boer. 


Charles Van Gorkom said...

Assumption, presumption, pride, how quick I can be to judge and condemn! The only solution I know is to be filled with His humility and grace, and eagerness to repent when I'm in the wrong. This can make for painful memories, thank-you for the reminder!

Peter Black said...

Ooohh! Marion, you smack me where I need it all to often!
You are so right, and so is Charles.
And yet, in our own lack of omniscience about why things are the way they are, there are times when we may do better to act than not to act. Of course, our attitude behind our decision whether to act or not to act in a given situation is what matters to our spiritual life, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

BELIEVE ME, I am a complete outsider of what's going on. But, it would be unfair for anybody to "judge" you by saying:" you were too quick at judging other people's garbage" without knowing the fact that you had a kind intention of picking up the garbage and the fact that you messed up your hands with grease and ended up feeling bad about the entire thing. Maybe people are not consistent in helping others, but they have done so for at least once with sincerity. That should make them blameless for what ever goes on afterward. It's really up to the highest Judge to judge this complexity.

Glynis said...

God knows our heart and our intentions. And it is a mighty lesson when we understand that. We carry on in this world with what we perceive as a good action but God sometimes reminds us otherwise. He doesn't condemn us for trying. He teaches us the importance of motivation and doing it unto Him. We leave judging up to God. Sometimes He wants us to move the garbage, sometimes He allows it there for a purpose. Situations are individual. You learned a wonderful lesson here, Marion, and you passed it on so we can do some soul searching, too. Thanks for that!

Anonymous said...

Such speculation on the act of picking up garbage we presume to be left behind. Such reminders that we are not in control. Thanks all for your thoughts.

Brenda Visser said...

Great storytelling! Makes me want to read your book...

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