On Thursdays, we turn into an old married couple.
Although no pastor I know ever actually takes an entire day off, Dave tries to stay away from his office on Thursdays, and he likes to pretend (though I know differently) that he’s not thinking about church and the people it contains.
We begin the day with a cup of coffee — same as every other morning — but this cup is sipped leisurely. Sighs of satisfaction usually occur at some point. I wait as long as I can. Eventually, when I can’t stand the suspense any longer, I’ll ask, “What should we do today?”
Dave will take a minute before answering. He might look out the window, or stare at the fire flickering in the wood stove. “Well …” he’ll begin, when a sufficient list has formed. “I should probably work on the goat barn a bit.”
I nod and sip, still waiting. I know he won’t stop there. The goat barn is an ongoing hobby. That one will come up every Thursday morning from now to eternity. I’m waiting to hear about the other possibilities — the ones that involve climbing into the truck and saying adios to our mini-farm for a few hours.
“We’re about out of feed,” he’ll say. Now we’re getting to it. This means a trip out to Dale and Gabriela’s farm (if he means hay) or Strotz Feed (if he means Layer 100 pellets and scratch for the chickens).
“And I need to get out to the dump.”
I restrain myself from clapping my hands. Really and truly. A big part of my delight is simple reminiscence. I have very fond memories of going to the dump, and no trip has yet failed to make me remember my grandpa. The dump, when I was a child, was a place of great mystery and possibility. The mystery was how people of sound thinking could part with all that treasure. The possibility was how much of it I’d end up carting home.
“Shanny, let’s try to leave more garbage than we bring back,” Grandpa would suggest. I always thought it greatly optimistic of him. The dump today is a mechanical, no-touching, no-possibility place, but back then, you could actually walk among the garbage and scrounge. I’d leave Grandpa talking to the dump guy and hold my nose as I scurried between seagulls, poking at piles with my sneakered-foot. Oh, the delights I discovered in all the filth! I found a pogo stick once. The blue plastic handle was split on one side and altogether gone from the other, and the springs squeaked terribly when you bounced, but when did a pogo stick not squeak? Grandma wasn’t as delighted as I when she saw me lugging that pogo stick out of the truck. Her resistance, I’m sure, was simply disgust. She had a thing about germs and trash and the like. It’s one of those things she passed down to me, eventually … and after much resistance on my part.
Another time I found a bike — a red bike with a bent front wheel and no seat. I envisioned a miraculous healing of that bike, and me riding like the wind around the farm, a swift, red blur of joy and frenzy. Grandpa didn’t see it. After reminding me that I had other transportation options back home — including a perfectly good bike and my choice of horses — he vetoed my dream. Some part of me still grieves that sad, red mass.
Since the dump today has a no-poking rule — and since, as I said, I’ve inherited my grandmother’s disdain for germs and probably wouldn’t poke even if they did allow it — there must be another reason for my love of the dump. I think it has something to do with the fact that we’ve loaded up a lot of unnecessary and unpleasant remnants of our life and driven them away from our dwelling place, and I know that once they’ve been tossed over the side of the pit, I never have to lay eyes on them again. We return home with a truckload of empty garbage cans and a fresh start.
You know where I’m going with this. I can’t not see a comparison between dump-treks and Jesus. The bending of your knee in first-time awe and surrender is like making a first run to the dump after a lifetime of garbage accumulation. Prayers at bedtime, after reviewing the mistakes of your day, are akin to emptying the little can you keep next to your desk. And those middle of the day, I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that prayers are like finding a tissue in your pocket and tossing it where it belongs.
Life is a journey through filth. God is a Father with a germ issue. And we’re nothing more than children, scampering at times where we ought not to scamper, and too often poking where we shouldn’t poke.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:9