Stooping over to pick up another empty can of beer, Ruth grimaced when she noticed the bugs crawling on its underside. Yuck. Walking along the desert highway, Ruth looked a sight. In one hand, she held her black garbage bag at the ready, on her other; she had on a floral garden glove. But she could have cared less what impression she was giving any passersby.

Ruth was deeply concerned about the littering problem that appeared to be multiplying exponentially before her very eyes. It wasn’t something Ruth could very well ignore, every time she turned into her sub-division, she had to pass through this stretch of two-lane highway and it was becoming a disgrace. Ruth suspected that the miscreants, who decided the earth was theirs to use or abuse, were the young adults who frequented the all night video and gaming establishment a few blocks north of her suburb.

In fact, she even witnessed some of these men and women tossing their castoffs from windows directly after pulling from the parking lot. While such inconsiderateness incensed Ruth to no end, she realized that all her complaining and behind-closed-door fuming wasn’t doing anyone any good. So Ruth joined up with other local volunteers to see to it that their streets and roadways remained clean and debris-free.

On this Saturday morning, Ruth was feeling a tad more surly than usual. In less than an hour, she’d already filled up one garbage bag with cans, bottles, and plastic products. Looking down the road, Ruth soon decided she would need help keeping her designated route in order, but who to ask? None of her friends were much interested in environmental stuff…at least not to the extent that Ruth was. Well, I could always go door to door at the nearby businesses and see if they want to offer their services once a week. So Ruth did.

After she finished her clean up, she went straight away to a number of the owners whose establishments faced the two-lane highway Ruth called her own. Ruth was surprised when two managers offered either their assistance or one of their employees. Encouraged, Ruth dropped her garbage bags off to the dumpster and drove toward home.

It’s not much, but if everyone does his or her little bit, I think it will make a significant difference over time. Glad she had acted on her impulse, Ruth understood what good soul medicine it had been to get out and actively work to solve this problem rather than simply stay put indoors, removed, and pouting about it.

"…I am the Lord who sanctifies you."  Leviticus 22: 32b

Dear Lord,

I am rounding about and changing my tune. I have to ask your forgiveness for my attitude of negativity. I wonder how many more hours I might waste offering up words of complaint rather than thankfulness? How long have I been stymieing your grace with my resistant, stubborn attitude? Of late, I have sorrowfully noticed that I am fast to fly off with a negative retort, when in instead, I should be speaking words that grace my listener.

Forgive me, Lord. I’ve been fully occupied with that which disturbs me. And yet, I’ve not been willing to make any sacrifices to change these circumstances. Finally, you broke through my wooly-headed mind and directed me to offer up my heart and hands in laborious service to you. I pray now that you would continue to sanctify the work of my hands, even though it be literally garbage duty.

I understand that as I mingle amongst the castoffs, you are there with me, instructing my heart in things of beauty if only I take care to notice. Open my mind’s eye, Lord, to see past the disagreeable, and to search for the loveliness you have set in place. In every area of my life, would you shine your glorious light? Let not any portion of my soul remain earth-bound by disagreeable situations or events. Set me free wherever I serve you. For your sake, I pray.


"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."  Editors in God’s Little Devotional Journal for Women

Copyright 2009 Michele Howe