We live on a quiet street, in a neighbourhood that’s off the beaten track. The odd car slides through every now and then, but it’s infrequent enough that the boys tend to stand and watch if they happen to be in the front yard. And wonderfully their poorly aimed footballs rarely hit a car, and they are unlikely to be knocked down on the retrieval mission.
But yesterday, the neighbourhood was chockablock with cars. An almost bumper-to-bumper line of cars and pick-up trucks were snaking through the surrounding roads scavenging for treasure amongst the trash.
This Monday – today – is the one day in the year when the rubbish trucks will take anything and everything. It’s acknowledged, anyway, over here that anything left on your curb side is available for taking. You could furnish your house some days, as armchairs, tables and beds can be seen lazing by the side of road. But this Monday was more than just random pickings. The whole of Glen Ellyn were doing their yearly clear-out, decluttering in the extreme and making the most of a free skip trip without having to crowbar a mattress into your volvo.
And there was treasure to be gathered. Knackered furniture, broken toys, splintered decor…but then a nearly new set of patio chairs, an extensive collection of toy boats and an old Singer sewing machine table. We cherry picked only one of those things, much to the boys delight.
Sunday saw what seemed to be half of Illinois curb-crawling and gathering anything that could be salvaged. Treasure-hunting from the comfort of your car, with a quick dash to sift through someone’s trash while avoiding eye contact if the house-dweller happened to be in their garden.
Coronavirus lockdown has been hard. Work stress implosions, always teetering on the edge of crisis, and then compounded by not being allowed to see anyone or escape from these four walls. Now that things are beginning to open up, it’s as if light and air are gradually seeping in and I can feel myself grow in optimism.
It’s tempting to look back and see trash. A rubbish three months that should be relegated to the curb side.
But what about the treasure, the things to be thankful for amidst it all: precious, uninterrupted time with the boys; realising that we can be content at home rather than racing through life; being all in the same place for an extended time as Jonathan’s events got cancelled; delighting in the small things that we previously took for granted; being filled up by even momentary face-face conversations; connecting digitally with people all over the world because everyone is at home more; having more opportunities than ever before to open the Bible with people as we hunger for spiritual food with church gatherings disallowed.
I’m looking forward to life beginning to feel a little more normal, but I’m keen to keep hold of those moments – plucked from amidst the stressful, exhausting, flattening, sometimes dominating realities of the last few months. Treasure rather than trash.