Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting rid of the junk

An invention in Australia known as the council clean up somehow brings out the best in human ingenuity and the worst in human folly. Three or four times a year most areas have a council clean up. How it works is that people can clean out their broken, unwanted and useless things and place them on the nature strip out the front of their house. The council sends compactor trucks around and on the appointed day, in fact usually a few days after the appointed day, they collect the rubbish free of charge. But the real beauty of the system is that most of the rubbish is not picked up by the council at all, as it has already been redistributed by others in the community.

Occasionally neighbours see something out the front of someone else’s house and decide they may have a use for that unwanted thing. To be honest, we have a few old decorative wheelbarrows, a bike that needs renovating and a few pieces of furniture we have collected this way. Apart from neighbours there are the professional collectors who cruise the streets, normally in large vans or trucks looking for treasure amongst everyone else’s trash. This week we were visited by one guy in a truck who was obviously a scrap metal dealer, as he collected not only everything metal from our heap, but was also happy to collect some more oversized metal rubbish from our backyard that I knew was too large and heavy for the council to collect. These collectors know that each piece of metal will not be worth much but collectively there is quite some value to be found.

The real crazies of this whole process are the people who cruise the streets, only to fill their own garages with junk that one day they hope they will have a use for. There isn't a determined effort to reclaim value; rather there is a wistful hope that one day something might be of some use. Collecting other people's rubbish for such a vague notion may well be a community service, but I fear it must also be threatening marriages and relationships across the country, as these collectors are invariably men whose garages fill with what the rest of us are firmly convinced is nothing but junk.

Learning to de-clutter in a materialistic age is essential before we are overrun with stuff. Even more important is getting rid of the junk in our lives and replacing it with things that are good - a process that has application far beyond our garages. Removing the vain, the trivial and the banal from our minds leaves room for deep things that can fuel our souls. Letting go, even a little, of the rubbish of jealousy, vanity and revenge leaves us with space to love. Replacing regret with commitment, guilt with thankfulness and worry with work, can revolutionize our daily lives.

Finally, taking the step of faith and abandoning our false gods to follow the true and living God, is nothing short of eternal salvation.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Philippians 4: 8

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