We’ve lived here in Derbyshire for over five years now. And at least twice a week, I’ve driven from our village into our local town. En route, there’s countryside, another village, views of the river, a castle-like property, a stately home. Copses, fields, cows, farms, a rookery. All-in-all, it’s a picturesque drive. (Ok, I’ll admit, the sewerage treatment works isn’t exactly a thing of beauty…) Even the flour mill converted into residential properties is quite a nice feature.
But last week, for the first time since moving here back in 2008, I had occasion to walk a stretch of the journey. I’d never even got out of the car (other than at the pub and the school in the village we pass through) previously. But as I walked a stretch, I noticed something I’d not really spotted before.
All along the side of the road, with no more than two paces between bits of litter. The result of human carelessness and laziness.
And that rubbish got me thinking. Perhaps that’s a bit like my life. It might look pretty decent, but if you get close enough, you’ll probably start to spot stuff that really shouldn’t be there. Stuff that spoils. You’ll come across rubbish that needs to be cleared up. And I thought to myself, maybe that’s partly what Lent is about. Of course, the typical view at Lent is that you should give something up. But maybe having a bit of an effort at litter-picking through your life would be time well spent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we need to maintain a façade of decency in order to trick people into thinking we’re perfect. No, I’m talking about clearing out of our lives stuff which just shouldn’t be there. As we do this, our own beauty, in whatever form it may take, will perhaps more closely reflect the beauty of God.
What, if anything, are you doing to mark Lent this year?
How would you go about litter-picking your life?
I always love feedback, and soon after tweeting about this blog post, I received this response:
@Longingtobeholy on Palm Sunday our procession collects the rubbish in our villages and places it in church as a Golgotha 2b the E Garden
— Fr john (@frjohn1) March 4, 2014
What a great idea! And what a powerful image, too. Clearing the rubbish up as part of the preparation for Easter. To me, that reflects the desire to clear the rubbish out of my own life in response to receiving Jesus. Thanks for the comment!