There is one thing I have noticed as I have traveled to various places around this planet – most of the developing world recycles out of necessity, not as an act of spiritual stewardship. Whether it is in Morocco, Central African Republic, or China, I have observed an established system of trash collection and recycling for items that had reached the end of their usefulness for one person, but could be of some utility to another.
Sometimes this phenomenon has tragic results. In Managua, Nicaragua thousands of people actually live in La Chureca – the city’s dump. Even small children work up to 12 hours a day, digging through the refuse of 1.7 million people. This video tells the story of heartbreak and hope:
What is considered voluntary for wealthy people like us is a matter of life and death to the vast majority of people in the world. What strikes me this Thanksgiving Day is this thought: If you have a choice, be thankful. If you are not forced to collect cans out of economic necessity, be thankful. If you can choose to fill your trash can with the detritus of American culture, be thankful. If you have been blessed with a house, a job, and people who love and care for you, be thankful. The result? I should let my thankfulness be expressed in my actions.
Jesus put it this way: “…from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Do you fit this description? I know I do. It is humbling to acknowledge that I am accountable for how I handle the blessings of this life.
So, this Thanksgiving, I will reflect on the one who has given me hope and take advantage of every opportunity to pass on this hope to others. Perhaps in doing this, I can recycle the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life and Our World, by Michael Abbaté, published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, 2009. ISBN 978-0-30744-499-8. For more info: http://www.michaelabbate.com