The bear showed up again last night, and trash lay all over the driveway and front lawn.
Black bears start bulking up from midsummer through fall before they hibernate for the winter here in the Sierra Valley. It’s easier for them to forage through people’s dumpsters than through the forest that surrounds our mountain valley, so they wander from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for fridge castaways.
Groaning, I began the gross and time-consuming task of collecting the litter. One more thing. It was one more thing on my cluttered to-do plate.
After a four-day conference halfway across the country, I came home to a cluttered desk, writing deadlines, numerous Zoom meetings, and shopping and other prep for a four-day writing retreat I would host just a few days later.
I felt as scattered as the trail of trash spread out in front of me. If I could only collect myself, I muttered as I picked up eggshell fragments and cans of Dinty Moore beef stew–my husband’s go-to meal when I’m gone.
How would I get it all done? Why did I say yes to so many responsibilities? What was I possibly forgetting?
Back inside a half hour later, I determined to clear my desk. After I filed away receipts, bills, and sticky note reminders, I saw what I had forgotten. My Bible sat there waiting for me to read that God collects scattered people (Jeremiah 28:25-26). He patiently allows me to blow away in the winds of struggle and hardship and even prideful too-much-to-do, so that I get to the place where I just cannot pull things together on my own. And then he gathers to himself those fragments of me that I have become, sets me securely in the place he has made for me, and gives me the security of his arms.
And somehow he makes beauty out of a collection of litter.
Janet McHenry is an award-winning speaker and author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the best-selling PrayerWalk. A former high school English teacher, she and her husband Craig raised four children in the Sierra Valley, where he is a rancher. She would love to connect with you: https://www.janetmchenry.com.
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