Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gold Teeth and Oscar the Grouch

The original owner of our new home left us with eleven metal, Oscar the Grouch style trash cans. They are all in a row along our back fence. At first glance one would think this was the trash can holding area for the entire street. No, they all belong to us. We joked about it for a while and then wondered what we would do with so many trash cans. The question arose – will the city trash workers take a perfectly good trash can as a trash item? What will the city trash workers take from our home as trash? That is the question and the challenge.

Note: For those of you more environmentally savvy readers – STOP READING NOW!

Over the past several weeks my wife and I have been cleaning out the old styles from the house we recently purchased. We have removed chain-link fence from the front yard (yes, the front yard), corrugated plastic from the deck, fence posts embedded in 50 lbs. of concrete, a 10 x 12 aluminum shed, and next we have our eyes set on the red and orange shag carpet in the basement. It seems as if the last several weekends have been full of hauling, dragging and throwing bits and pieces of the 1950’s to our back alley. What will the city trash workers take from our home as trash? The answer – EVERYTHING! I suppose the state of North Dakota has thousands of acres to fill and it is partially my responsibility as a state resident to assist in their efforts. As a test this morning I put out a large tree trunk full of roots and dirt. It took two men to lift it but they did get it into the back of the trash truck. It is now a personal challenge to put something out that they will not take as trash. I don’t know that it can be accomplished but I am going to find out. We found a urine-stained mattress in one of the rooms that was graciously left by the previous owner. It may soon find itself thrown to the alley. I am still taking suggestions on what to do with the half-full can of unidentified fuel and the cinder-block storm shelter. That may be the ultimate challenge for our city workers.

It is interesting what some think of as treasure others may think of as trash. There have been times when we feel guilty for throwing away so much of what we consider junk. Last night our neighbor wheeled out a decorative wooden windmill from his yard to his trash in the alley. He didn’t consider the windmill to be a treasure, rather it was trash. I am certain there is someone on our street that would like to have that windmill in their yard between the larger-than-life ceramic goose and the smaller-than-life concrete deer. To some that windmill is a great treasure to be added to other decorative lawn treasure.

Yesterday the police reports from my childhood hometown were listed in their local newspaper. Listed were those offenses from the following day. Among which are the area thefts.

* A CD player, speakers and jumper cables were reported stolen from a vehicle at 2830 Whitener St. A door and window on the vehicle were damaged.
* A gym bag, running shoes, prescription glasses, and money were reported stolen from a vehicle at 2217 Melrose Ave.
* PlayStation games, clothing and a cell phone were reported stolen at Lorimer and Good Hope streets.
* Gold teeth were reported stolen at 520 Morgan Oak St.

As I looked through the list of items stolen from home and auto I wondered what I would have considered worthy of reporting – Prescription glasses? Clothing? Gym bag? Gold teeth? What some consider to be treasure others consider trash.

Jesus says “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…where thieves break in and steal but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:19-21). We all have differing views on treasures and we certainly have differing views on trash. Jesus has one view – treasures here on earth amount to nothing. Paul says that all things are “rubbish” in light of the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8). Oscar would not have a place to live if only I would throw away the rubbish in my life that keeps me from knowing Christ. What do our lives truly indicate that we treasure? Hmm, good thoughts for a rainy Tuesday