The Fijian Way



Restoring the Earth (one piece of trash at a time)

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Sitting on a bench in Fiji, gazing out at the breathless pacific water and evergreen mountains isn’t a bad way to celebrate Valentines Day. Picture perfect would be a good description for our view. A view that in it’s origins was perfect. Perfection created through the evolving imagination of a good God through His good creation. God has His will, humanity has it’s own.

Earthly beauty is soothing to our souls. We seek after summer sunsets, walks by the ocean, hikes up mountains, camping in the woods, gardens in our backyards, picnics in local parks, and flowers surrounding in our homes. It literally takes our breath away. As living creatures we yearn to see, smell, be surrounded, grow, and participate with living creations. Our nature desires to connect with earth’s nature. Yet earthly beauty, can be deceptive. It leads us to forget that pollution, toxic chemicals, oil spills, and trash have become interconnected with our earth. It seems easier to ignore forms of violence against nature then to acknowledge it. Nobody wants to breath dirty air, but we make factories and automobiles that pollute the air. Nobody wants dirty toxic water, but ocean liners empty oil into the seas. Nobody wants to see trash, but people empty their trash on the pacific seashore. When we acknowledge the forms of violence against nature we do so because of it’s original nature – good, beautiful, perfect.

We need to stop and see the beauty that is in front of us. Beauty that is for humanity to share and enjoy. Pollution doesn’t stop us from discovering new ways to clean up our air. A toxic oil spill doesn’t stop us from cleaning our waters. Trash on a pacific seashore doesn’t stop us from picking it up. It doesn’t stop us from enjoying natures beauty, but it calls on us collectively to do something about it, even when the same opportunity exists to ignore it.

Leaving our bench to walk along the pacific shoreline, my fiance and I knew we were witnessing beauty in it’s most perfect form. The sun was setting over the mountains and aqua blue seas as we continued to walk in awe and wonder. Sitting on the oceans wall, we paused for the climax of the settling sun. The moment and the sights were breathtaking. All was good, beautiful, and perfect.

The sun had now settled in front of us, yet I quickly became unsettled by seeing loads of trash along the shore. Empty plastic and glass bottles, food boxes, plastic wrappers, and random containers. In a moments time we noticed two kids running on the shore. Still soaking in all the beauty of Fiji, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a plastic bottle fly up into the air and land into the ocean. I looked over to my fiance and said “Oh God, I didn’t just see that.” I despise trash and seeing trash floating in the water irks me. I tell Lindsay it’s because when I was younger I would finish a candy bar or a can of soda and throw it out of the car window when my parents weren’t looking. The boys continued to kick the bottles into the ocean but I stayed silent.

In the next moment I see the boy’s friend kicking another bottle into the water, “stop kicking the trash into the water,” I yelled from about twenty feet away. “Stephen, what good is it in trying to get their attention, they’re just boys,” Lindsay remarked. “Boys who need to be taught about not kicking trash into the ocean” I responded back. The boys heard me and smiled innocently as they ran past us and kicked two more bottles into the water. “Stephen, don’t do anything,” Lindsay said instantaneously. At the sight of the fourth plastic bottle dropping into the ocean, I jumped from the sitting wall and ran to greet my two friends, “don’t kick the trash into the water, we all share this water.” I gently said to them, as they looked at me as if I was speaking in a new language. I then walked into the water an grabbed the trash and turned back to the boys and said, “isn’t the ocean more beautiful when there’s no trash floating in it?” They shook their heads in agreement and smiled. “Look here brothers, when all the trash is picked up you can run faster without any obstacles.” I ran back to where I was sitting to grab a plastic bag and began picking up the rest of the bottles. As I was walking away, I looked at the couple who were sitting beside us on the wall and said “It’s much better to look at when there’s no trash!” They agreed but then the man said “you have some helpers too.” Dumbfounded by his comment I looked to my left and saw the two boys with plastic bags picking up trash. “Yes!” I shouted, as I ran towards them to bump fists. They were smiling even brighter now as we walked up to the dumpster to throw away our collected trash. We parted ways and I kept saying to myself, “people can change, yes, yes! we don’t have to have trash on the shore and kids don’t have to kick it around.” I grabbed our backpack and Lindsay and I were off.

As I was walking away from the the wall a man who attended the same service as my new young friends, walked with two older boys in front of us, all of them with their bibles by their side. They said hello and looked at us, as if they had just seen what occurred. Still inspired by the moment, I spontaneously blurted out “sometimes we need to close our bibles and pick up trash.” Surprised by the boldness of my comment, they shook their heads in awkward agreement, as if to say “who are you?” “We need to restore the earth” I continued to say, “we read about creation being good but we don’t do anything in the clarity that everything isn’t good.” They said yes and went on their way, as I kept on whispering to myself “close your bibles and pick up trash.”

I share this story not to receive an earth day award, as my supervisor jokingly teased on hearing the story. I share this story because often when we notice that something isn’t right, we give in to the belief that says, this is just the way that it is. Or at least our actions reflect this belief. We give in to the lie that says people and the earth are in-changeable, unable to be restored. We see trash on a shore and boys kicking it into the water and view it as an insignificant act. When truthfully it speaks to how we view the earth and our relation with it. We know that the earth is good and beautiful, yet we forget to acknowledge that it’s been vandalized. When we forget this, we forget that we can be apart of restoring it.

Restoring the earth, one piece of trash at a time.

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Comments

  1. Deut 30: 1-6
    When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

    the whole chapter is worth reading. i love it. for some reason though, this section that i’ve copied and pasted reminds me of picking up trash. you’re both smart people, so i don’t have to connect it for you. :)

    keep posting! i love your stories!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 4 months ago


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