While walking to work, my eyes were opened to the glory of wheelie bins. As I strolled through the cosmopolitan Wellington suburb of Newtown, I followed a young mum walking her son to childcare. I wasn’t particularly tuned in to their conversation, until the boy asked about one of the wheelie bins our city council uses for recycling.
Mum started explaining that the bin ‘gets picked up by a truck with a robot arm’.
The little boy’s eyes lit up. A real robot?!
Mum then demonstrated how the ‘robot arm’ comes out of the truck, how it connects with the wheelie bin, how it lifts and manoeuvres the bin until its contents can be emptied right into the truck!
Throughout this exaggerated visual demonstration, her young son remained transfixed. His eyes opened to all sorts of amazing things: recycling, technology, engineering and storytelling to name just a few.
I couldn’t help it. I had to stop and congratulate this awesome mum for awakening my eyes to the splendour of Wellington City Council wheelie bins.
There’s a lot to be worried about in the world. The constant anxiety of Covid-19, a planet groaning under consumerism’s excesses, the competitive sport of partisan politics, casual and institutionalised racism, out-of-reach housing, over-stretched mental health systems.
I was carrying all this (and more) in my head before God woke me to the glory of wheelie bins. No, that’s not right; God woke me to the glory of positivity through this brilliant young mother.
We need to be careful not to become so overwrought by all that’s going wrong in the world that we overlook what’s going right.
This isn’t about denial or burying our heads in the sand. It’s about lifting our sight and souls to spot the causes for celebration that surround us every day. And then anchoring our efforts as champions for the good stuff of life. Like that mum, getting her son to childcare, yet not too busy to shine a spotlight of gratitude on a simple wheelie bin.
That same morning, I read Psalm 116 (CEV) over breakfast and was reminded that even hurt and disappointment can help us recapture hope and purpose when we allow it to turn us—even in utter desperation—to God.
The psalmist writes: ‘Death attacked from all sides, and I was captured by its painful chains. But when I was really hurting, I prayed…’
There it is! When we are really hurting, when the world around us and the worries within us deliver abject hopelessness, our instinct is not always to pray. But oh, the change that can come when our hurt turns us to God!
Where does your hurt send you?
This is where it sent the writer of Psalm 116: ‘You, Lord, have saved my life from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. Now I will walk at your side in this land of the living.’
Just as I was challenged by that amazing mum to pay attention to positivity as I walked to work, so I am challenged by the writer of Psalm 116 to pay attention to the blessings of daily companionship with the Divine. To let God be God, when I am constantly faced with the reality that I am not.