KOH2RVA: Day 166

DaffodilsI did it.

I took the whole day off yesterday (well, except for that one little posting incident on my blog. But that was force of habit. It could hardly be helped).

And then there was that other thing.

It was a nice, sunny day yesterday—cold, but sunny. So, I decided to pack a picnic lunch and take a walk in the woods. I chose the Northbank/Buttermilk Trail loop which goes from the Boulevard Bridge down along the north bank of the James to the Lee Bridge, and then back up to the Boulevard Bridge along the Buttermilk Trail on the south bank. It’s about a 6.3 mile loop, with lots of ups and downs to keep it interesting.

My first experience of the Buttermilk Trail was in the fall, when the sunlight filtered through the red, yellow, and orange leaves and fell to the ground in leaf-sized patches of gold. It was glorious. Yesterday’s hike was a little more bare, brown, and wintry, but I was surprised by this burst of daffodil blooms (above) at the place where I stopped to shed my jacket.

And there were all those other things to see: a Great Blue Heron gliding to a stop above a tree limb and settling itself there, folding its wings like an umbrella; five Canada Geese diving for something delicious on the muddy bottom of the river, their tail feathers pointing toward the sky; and, to my surprise, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus train, parked on a side track (I kept looking for the extra-large car where they keep the elephants and the extra-tall car where they keep the giraffes, to no avail; that may be only in my imagination).

But here’s that other thing: as I was getting close to the Boulevard Bridge, near the end of my hike, I saw that some careless hiker or biker had dropped a piece of trash on the trail. At first I just muttered under my breath and walked on by. I had seen so much beauty on my hike, and it had done so much to restore my soul. It was like this perfect moment in time I was going to frame and hang on the wall of my memory.

But then somebody threw a piece of trash on it.

I could have just picked it up. I should have. But it didn’t look like the kind of trash you would want to touch with your hands. I had a trash bag in my pack, but I didn’t really want to unbuckle everything, set it down, open the pack, take out the bag, and poke the trash into it with a stick. That seemed like too much trouble, and I was almost to the end of my hike.

So, I kept walking, but as I did I remembered something I’ve said at Richmond’s First Baptist Church over and over again: “How do you bring heaven to earth? It’s simple. Just look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven and then roll up your sleeves and go to work.” Well, that piece of trash on the trail didn’t look like heaven. In fact, I thought, “In heaven there won’t be any trash on the trails.” And so I went back, dropped my pack, and did all those things I had been reluctant to do before.

Now, that seems like a small thing, doesn’t it? I picked up a piece of trash. Big woo. But think about it: if everybody who threw trash down began to pick it up; if everybody who cursed others began to bless others; if everybody who hurt others began to heal others; if everybody who hated their neighbors began to love their neighbors; if everybody who hated God began to love God…heaven would come to earth.

I believe that’s what Jesus was after, really: inviting the whole human race to join him in the redemption of the world God loves rather than its destruction.

Picking up a piece of trash is a tiny thing, but it’s a tiny thing in the right direction.

5 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 166

  1. “Picking up trash…a tiny thing in the right direction” — kicked off memories for me, in that for quite a while whenever I saw trash on the grounds at my college I would pick it up & drop in the nearest waste can (often not more than several feet away! – Mother’s admonitions die hard!)
    Yesterday my family and I had a lovely heavenly moment — we went out to Maymont and planted a tree in my daughter Donna’s memory. Donna left us, much too early, in Nov. 2011, but so often we see opportunities to do something that keeps her spirit with us, and planting the tree will give shade and beauty for many who never knew her. I played in Maymont’s lovely grounds as a child, and when my children were small we often enjoyed its beauty and wonderful variety of places to explore. So this is our “bit of heaven” for others who enjoy this lovely piece of God’s creation. Blessings for all who enjoy the maple’s beauty and shade in coming years.

  2. Two versions of a quote by French painter, Vincent Van Gogh:

    “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”


    “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

    There is such a thing as a “tiny thing”, especially when a whole bunch of “tiny things” lead to “great things”.

  3. Jim, You passed that way and made it better for your having passed. It is not the periodic public drives that assuage our sense of civic duty and demonstrate to others that we care, but individual acts performed anonymously that define our society.
    chuck pflugrath

  4. I’ve found that so many small thing make a difference – like a smile and a “good morning” can brighten someone’s day.

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