For months now, I have seen a man jogging past my home around 7am each morning. He carries a plastic bag with him which flaps in the breeze as he runs by. It was the bag that caught my eye. He uses it to pick up trash along the way. This gentleman will bend and pick up the stray coffee cup or fast food wrapper and can do it while barely breaking his stride. He will even cross back and forth to either side of the road if he notices a piece of paper on the opposite side on his morning run.
I live on a main road in my town so there is much traffic, both cars, joggers and people walking and that means a lot of garbage can get tossed aside. I regularly pick up papers and sometimes bottles and cans along the front of my property. This guy is the only person I have seen in 20 plus years of living here who not just joins me in cleaning up my property but he does this for every property he passes through. He is my hero.
As I was sipping my morning tea and gazing out the window, I saw him jog by. He bent over three times in front of my house and another two times at my neighbor’s home. In the background, I had the TV tuned to the morning news and the reporter was shouting about the “Race to the Finish” and what the presidential candidates would be spending their days doing.
As with so many others, I have felt great stress and anxiety over this election. I am afraid for my country and its citizens. But this man and his simple act of community service have helped me refocus. This jogger has found a way to focus his end results, yet never so much that he misses what is right in front of him. He has made a decision to leave a better world in his wake, one piece of garbage at a time. He runs with an attitude of mercy for those who made the mess and displays grace when he pitches in to help clean up. Imagine what kind of world we would have if we all adopted this attitude. Rather than an inward focus which causes us to either ignore or complain about problems, what if we lived life with merciful and grace-filled eyes that would compel us to do more than just see the injustices that occur every day. Rather than shaking our fist at the car speeding by and throwing a McDonald’s wrapper out the window, maybe we simply picked up the wrapper, slipped it in our bag and carried on with our race barely breaking stride.
…live a life a love…
I am trying to adopt this attitude. While I have my own race to run, I don’t want to continue to miss what is right around me because I am so focused on end results. It’s a classic “stop and smell the roses” scenario. But this time, rather than just appreciate the beauty around me, take a minute to reach down and do my part in beautifying the spot that I find myself in.
After the election tomorrow, our country will refocus on the issues that face our nation. But we as individuals still have a job to do. Commit with me to leave this world a better place by rooting our actions in mercy and grace each day. Rather than looking for someone to blame for leaving garbage in my path, take a moment to bend down and dispose of the trash. Then continue on your way knowing that what you left behind is a bit cleaner, maybe even a bit better than it had been.
He has shown you, O Man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.