It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise. Any number of species can be seen skittering around. Some gracefully swoop down to land together; a perfectly coordinated squadron.
Admittedly, there are a few drawbacks, which wouldn’t help this favourite spot of mine in a TripAdvisor review. There’s no beach to speak of, just mud. And the whole place stinks. I use the word ‘stink’ thoughtfully, because ‘smell’ does not do justice to the rank odour of decay that hangs dankly over the entire property.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the constant noise. The din of breaking glass is continuous. But despite these undeniable challenges, this is a destination that brings me great peace.
It is our local city rubbish dump. Living in the country, we don’t have a refuse collection service, hence the need for my weekly excursion. Anticipation builds as I trundle along, my car loaded up. I’ve carefully sorted the items for recycling, thinking of a new birth to come for each cardboard box, bottle and container. Smelly black refuse sacks, filled to the brim, jostle in the back of my car, staining the air. I’m looking forward to bidding them farewell.
And then comes the glorious moment. Glass goes in this bin, paper and plastic over there, but the real elation comes as I finally toss those bursting sacks into the skip. They are gone forever. I drive home lighter, my rubbish banished, clutter cleared. I have dumped my trash.
But I don’t always find offloading some of the other rubbish I have accumulated quite so straightforward. I insist on carting around sacks of shame, gradually collected throughout my personal history. The burden of hauling those emotional bin bags around can be overwhelming. The smell of regret mingled with remorse and embarrassment fills my nostrils.
The gospel is good news; an invitation to everyone, everywhere, to offload the heavy weight of our shame onto a heavenly dustman. Jesus took out our trash, to a cross. At a flyblown execution site, in a way that I cannot begin to explain, he carried my sin and yours.
What a relief it is to offload our greatest regrets; the thoughts and actions that make us blush as we recall them. What a relief to dump it all, with gratitude, upon him.