Sunday, May 29, 2011

Taking Out the Trash

It's an unsavory job wherever you live.  On Luaniua, the trash gets sorted into burnables, which are incinerated on the beach, and food waste, which is fed to the chickens and pigs.  Everything that can't be safely burned or fed to the animals gets taken far out onto the reef at low tide for the ocean to flush away. 
This was mostly my brother's job.  Nathan would sneak through the village after dark with a bucket of tin cans, plastic, dried pens, empty toothpaste tubes, and foil packets, and then pick his way out to the yawning edge of the reef.  Why wait for the sun to set?  Because otherwise he'd collect a bevy of curious pikininis, who would pick through our trash, and then broadcast it throughout the village.  Even our garbage was endlessly interesting to villagers who had basically lived the same life for centuries. 

Sometimes, he would catch the tide on the way in, or dump too close to the beach.  I always knew when this had happened, because the next morning there would be a week's worth of white man trash floating along the shore.  The sodden re fried bean packets and jagged tomato cans always gave me a guilty, uneasy feeling.  When you throw away trash, you want it to stay thrown away.  You don't want to be reminded of the ghosts of things you've consumed. 

There are people in my life with whom I share a history of hurt.  When I don't interact with them, I'm fine.  The trash stays out on the reef where it belongs.  But then something happens to trigger conflict, and suddenly the tide comes rushing in and I'm staring at the sodden mess of old things.  Nasty old words and hurts that can't be burned away.  And I have this boiling, seething mess of garbage I have to look at again.  Forgive again. 

I used to think that once I forgive a hurt, it gets washed out to sea.  I don't ever have to look at it again.  But I've learned that sometimes, I have to chose to forgive the same offense over and over again, because it resurrects itself in my heart whenever trouble rolls in. 

All I know to do is look at each bit of trash as it floats by, and say to myself, "Yep.  That hurt.  But I forgive."

1 comment:

  1. I come back and read through your blog again even if there is nothing "new" yet...I need to be reminded. Thank you so much for being so open and honest. I know God had us meet just before leaving for the other side of the world for a reason. I thank you, and my family thanks you.