I need to talk about my trash.
Up until this morning at 7:42 a.m. these two bins were full to their brims. Full as in “pressed down and shaken together,” not “maybe could slip in another piece of paper—“ Nope. They were so solidly compacted part of me was afraid the waste truck would not be able to hoist ‘em high.
The green can is loaded with waste. Contents of the brown bin are bound for recycling.
You must know how much this saddens me. I have been putting off this post—and, honestly, even looking at my waste bins—because, well, I am tempted to feel like a failure. Even though I have been learning that God requires faithfulness and not perfection, I still struggle with accepting failure in the process of growth. I know full well that waste is a problem larger than my sole control. I know that that it is better to risk failure than to do nothing. But I look at these bins and feel all the feels.
Perhaps they represent more than the waste they conceal?
These past few months have been a beautiful hot mess of transition, change, trial, and celebration (quite the mixed bag--read here and here!). We moved on the first Saturday of November, which was right before the final push of my first semester of divinity school, which was right before Advent, which was right before Christmas—
These bins represent the rush, grace, and triage-nature of the past two months. They have not been emptied since we moved in.
- the thrice-used trappings of our moves (recyclable, mostly; we got most of it pre-used, too; all the larger boxes were hauled off by a good deacon a while ago)
- the dozen or so pizza boxes that were lovingly given by our church ladies to feast our arrival on move-in day
- the plastic that wrapped some of our Christmas presents
- food scraps that could not be eaten or saved for broth-making
- cans, bottles, and glass for recycling
- plastic bags from frozen fruits and veggies
- bathroom items
- used up pens and used-up scrap paper from the semester
They also hold a lesson for me. Aaron and I filled two enormous waste bins in two months. That is absolutely awful, but we are making progress.
Hopefully we will not be moving for quite some time, and, as for those pizza boxes and plastic wrap, we are completely blessed by the grace of our congregation and families. Part of living a sustainable, Kingdom-pursuing lifestyle is receiving the hospitality of others.
There will be room for greening conversations later; I am praying for it. I am also praying for big decisions like the ones France and Canada are making will come to America.
I pray that systems of injustice and thoughtless consumption will be broken so that more people will be freed to produce less trash.
In the meanwhile, I pray thanks for the generosity of friends and family, for the good opportunities all this transitioning brings, for enough food to eat these past few months, for the ability to use pens and paper in the pursuit of my education, and for the grace of our great Creator that is new every morning.
I sense that our season of transition and triage is curbing just a bit. These bins indeed represent more than the sad matter they hold within. They offer direction as to where our waste-reducing efforts ought to go, where repentance is needed, and where gratitude can overcome shame.
I am ready to learn, risk, and try again.