Holiday Homage to Mary the Mother of Jesus (from an emblematic 21st century human)

The following is excerpted (& slightly edited) from my out-of-print memoir, Hope Deferred.

I’ve never had heroes.  I’m not enamored with celebrities However, there’s Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I look up to her as a role model.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t formally revere Mary, but I get why they do and I’m on the verge of doing so as well.  But, in the mean time I think the theological character that I know of as Mary, and I have some similarities, resulting in a feeling of kinship with her, triggering the thoughts which follow.

Although Mary was monumentally blessed, she was socially ostracized and an ordinary girl from humble originsHer blessing was for believing that what the Lord had said to her would be accomplished.  I have sometimes felt stupendously foolish for believing an outlandish promise from God.  Mary is clearly identified in Scripture as one who longed for fulfillment of ancient promises.  I wonder if she felt foolish for believing God while she waited.  I think she did at least momentarily.

I recall as a young adult that I felt somehow “charmed” or better put, “blessed” at having never had a broken bone or an illness beyond the usual growing pains of stomachaches, sore throats, colds, etc.  My family was intact, although barely at times.  I never lacked for anything, even though times were obviously hard, periodically.  I stayed emotionally even and balanced throughout my formative years.  I wasn’t intellectually challenged nor did I overly excel.  I felt an inherent blessing over my life, however.  I identify with Frank Schaeffer’s perspective on my childhood (Crazy for God, p. 38), “Given the range of human suffering, I had a golden childhood.”

An outcast, Mary was deprived of a suitable place to give birth to her son, who’s soon to become a celebrity.  I understand the dual status that Mary enjoyed.  That is something I’m not sure many folks comprehend.  One can be both blessed beyond measure and prominent in one sense, while at the same time remain an outside observer of the mainstream, not belonging anywhere.

From my perspective, Mary was a ponderer and a contemplative.  I get her.

Mary remained an ordinary woman who responded in faith to a unique calling, purpose, and portion, although later, she was elevated beyond ordinary humanity by people who followed her – venerating, idealizing, and revering her through pan-biblical tradition, which was out of proportion to her humble character and ordinary beginnings.

IF I WERE MARY – and, aren’t we all glad I wasn’t? {please take a moment to appreciate the happy sarcasm included}:

  1. I would have had a fit with Joseph for not planning ahead enough to reserve a room in the inn.  He should have known what tax time is like in Bethlehem?
  2. After all, here I am ready to have this baby any minute.  What was he thinking?  Joseph knows full well that I’m expecting the Son of God, no less, and he didn’t have the courtesy to prepare a decent place for me to labor and give birth.
  3. My ankles swelled appreciably with each mile I sat atop that beast.  What kind of man am I betrothed to?  I don’t think I want to go through with this thing.  It’s too hard, and I’m unappreciated.
  4. The people in this town, don’t they have any feelings for others?  How selfish can they get?  Every generation of people seems to get more self-centered than the last one.
  5. Can you imagine someone covering the front desk of an inn?  There’s no vacancy, and a man comes in and tells you his wife is in end-stage labor and needs a place to rest and give birth to her baby.  The desk clerk cannot conceive of, or won’t suggest, a single alternative but a stable!  Where does he plan to sleep, out back?  I hope he sleeps comfortably.
  6. How about those guests at the inn?  I think I’ll groan extra loud just for them.  We’ll see who gets any sleep tonight!  I must remember to pray for these people that God would make them more sensitive to the needs of others.
  7. What’s with these shepherd boys.  I just had a baby in a stable, and shepherd boys want to visit.
  8. I’m trying to get the hang of nursing my baby.  As soon as he goes to sleep, some jackass honks, or dumb goat bleats and wakes him up.
  9. I’m tired.  I’m dirty.  I look awful.  I want to go home, and an endless parade of shepherd boys and wise men (there’s an oxymoron for ya) come to visit.
  10. Of course, daddy’s over there, glowing like he had anything to do with it!
  11. Nobody has considered my needs, how I feel, what I might want.
  12. As the mother of a famous child, I have a creeping feeling this pattern might continue my whole life.  I think I’m depressed!



The Courage to Take No Offense

I’m GUILTY.  I have lacked the courage to take no offense.  Let me explain.

I admire my Facebook friends on the conservative right who post, share, and forward posts which will undoubtedly tweak the sensibilities of our Facebook friends on the liberal left.  But they stand up and do it anyway.

I simply don’t have the courage to push the like button or “worse,” forward or share those posts, many of which I totally agree with because they seem as close to the obvious truth as I see it. I’ve been the victim of demeaning challenges by a couple of my liberal Facebook friends when in the past I’ve shared posts with a conservative point of view.  I’ve backed off and I’m sort of ashamed of this.

First, I should make it clear that Facebook posts are mostly, if not entirely based on someone’s opinion.  Some opinions probably are based more on fact than other opinions, but just the same, they are opinions.  Opinions are personal points of view, beliefs based on grounds not sufficient to produce certainty.  Or, opinions, such as “I hate summer,” or to be fair to all, “I hate winter;” are based on personal experience and are completely subjective, but legitimate just the same.  In other words, opinions are not necessarily rationally or factually based; but some of them are.

The fact is, Facebook posts cause widespread anus-twitching and jaw-clenching across the land, especially when the post includes: “I agree with President Trump….”  This one makes people down-right pissy.

However,  I recently use the excuse that I don’t have to react to every post and I usually move on from such posts; a procedure that I comfortably use when one of my Facebook friends on the liberal left shares a post about which I disagree.  It’s pretty cowardly of me, as I’m protecting my own sensitivities toward offense.

Everybody, it seems, is offended these days.  In fact, being a writer, I mused this little ditty a few months ago: “It’s best to assume that everything one writes will offend someone, somewhere, sometime.”  We are an offense-oriented culture.  I’m sorry, but “snowflake,” really seems an apropos moniker for us; ALL of us who are instantly and powerfully offended at a difference of opinion.

After reading a post (Scott Thomas, August 14, 2019) with a conservative point of view, this morning forwarded by my sister-in-law, Marge, excerpts of which are here:

“…my ancestors came here from other countries…learned the language…worked…became citizens…and some served in the military!…  IMMIGRANTS…must adapt…I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture….We speak ENGLISH…Most Americans believe in God…If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our ‘Culture.’  We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why.  All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us… If you aren’t happy here, then LEAVE.  We didn’t force you to come here.  You asked to be here.  So accept the country that accepted you.”

I couldn’t help but think of Robert De Niro’s character in Ronan who, when asked if he had ever killed anyone, replied: “I hurt someone’s feelings once.”

This seems to be the cultural extreme to which we have turned, where murder is equated with offense or hurt feelings.  It’s become a criminal act to disagree with someone and publish it.  The thing is, you set yourself up, in my experience, to be emotionally and mentally abused by ANY and EVERY dissenter.  And, we’ve all seen the extremes of this kind of abuse.  This is the anonymous, internet-age after-all and  EVERYONE with an opinion, openly, loudly, and as nasty as they wanna be, criticizes your opinion.

So, what do we do with the smattering of Biblical Scriptures which counsel us to “take no offense?”  I believe I’ve been working on that character lesson for around five decades.  If anything, it’s become more of a challenge in the internet-age, through social media than it was when I was a “sensitive” teenager, trying to fit in while trying to take a stand for what’s “right.”

Let’s break it down: offense in the biblical context means “at fault.”  Basically, the precept is then, not to take an attitude or behave in a way (share an opinion) that puts you at fault in the character department.  So, if I have done nothing with the obvious intent of hurting another, I have no reason to take offense at the critical backlash of someone with a differing opinion.  I can move on in the knowledge that my intent was righteous.

Some wise advice then might be to “guard your heart.”  Keeping some people at a distance may go a long way in protecting your heart: casual acquaintances; some social media “friends” with whom you have no brick and mortar relationship; and other faux connections.  And, an important and vital tool in guarding your heart is “don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t take advice from” – Kyle Freedman (Twitter, May 3, 2019).


Dig-in to the Permanent & Release the Temporary

It was a beautiful day for a hike: mid-forties, partly sunny, a gentle breeze, and a leisurely, restful Sunday.  I left the house without a walking stick, not really focused on a direction, a style, or a plan.  I had no expectations, I just wanted to walk, Forrest Gump-style.

Almost immediately, nature provided a perfect walking stick.  I almost gave it a toss away from the path and into the woods, but there was something potential and maybe preemptively advantageous about keeping it.  So I adopted it and we went a walking.

  Get a load of those pink gloves.  So NOT ME!

My open mind at the outset of today’s walk served to unleash some stuff from within; deep within.  When I was a teenager, in the throes of developing what would become a deeply philosophical/spiritual soul, there was a saying: “If you love something set it free…if it was meant for you it will come back to you.”

I’m sort of in love with Autumn and with some reluctance, I’m having to release those beautiful but oh so temporary yellow, orange, red, and brown leaves to the wind in the hope and expectation of new ones arriving next year.  But at the same time, I marvel at the utter permanence of the boulders along my path, many of them moss strewn, which will remain the same from season to season and year to year.

The juxtaposition of temporary, fleeting, & releasing against permanent, solid, & grounded made life feel awesome for this moment in time.  Then, to conclude my walk, I felt my place in life when I came across a winding, curved, but solid and purposeful tree root and a mushroom/fungus, utterly attached to a tree root, looking so unmoved as to be a permanent part of that tree’s root system.

I find nature’s curves appealing.  I’m not one for linear thinking nor is my body unfamiliar with curves.  We’ve all heard of the curve-ball.  But many of us don’t expect to encounter them in our lives.  The wise among us have learned to accept the curves and even treasure the gifts they eventually bestow.

I finished my walk singing and walk/jogging, and I’ll finish these thoughts with, some lyrics from What a Feeling from Flashdance:

“First when there’s nothing   But a slow glowing dream   That your fear seems to hide   Deep inside your mind   All alone I have cried   Silent tears full of pride   In a world made of steel   Made of stone   Well, I hear the music   Close my eyes, feel the rhythm   Wrap around   Take a hold of my heart   What a feeling…  You can dance right through your life…”



Gifts & Appreciation – Thank You, the long version

“Being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest and most uplifting things you can hear.”

This is intended to be my writerly, or long, version of a THANK YOU to those who noticed the Shopper’s Guide article showcasing my and my husband’s books.  Our daughter, Eleni LeVan-Miller (a PSU graduate in Communications and a chip off the old block) and Joanne Stiffler, my high school friend (who heralds others like none other), both thoughtfully and kindly, shared the essence of the article on Facebook.  We are grateful for the many responses to their posts, in the form of likes or comments.  And, to those of you who called, texted and messaged us, equal THANK YOU‘S from the bottom of our hearts. 🙂


My writing and research style was fully expanded upon while working on my Master’s degree (family studies/sociology – Vermont College) back in the 80s and honed even further when developing curriculum in the Sociology Department at San Juan College, Farmington, NM and trying it all out at Allegany College of Maryland.  Then I home-schooled my precious daughter from K-7.

This style includes the dissecting of words and their meanings.  My mission, even my calling, was to discern the nuances in the meaning (a philosophical term), of words.  This endeavor sort of made me a mini-philosopher, seeking and finding meaning in everything I observed.

Back to my THANK YOU

When you give a gift to someone, it’s not wrong to expect some form of appreciation for the gesture.  Usually a “thank you” will do.  Some “old-fashioned” folks think it a courtesy to receive it in writing; thus the greeting card industry’s invention of the “thank you note.”  Others, a simple “thanks” will suffice.

The Scripture, Proverbs 18:16 – “A person’s gifts enlarge him/her and make room for her/him, ushering the giver into the presence of the great,” has been a part of my personal Charismatic history in the Christian church.  I was taught to interpret the word, “gifts” in this passage as spiritual gifts, the same as from I Corinthians, where the word refers to divine gratuities, spiritual endowments or religious qualifications.  Not the same connotation as presents (there is some question as to whether the literal translation of the word might mean presents, as one might be brought before greatness when presenting them with valuable presents!! lol in a way).

So, in the Latin-to-English borrowing of the word gift/talent, we understand the word gift in this context as a mental inclination, aptitude or ability, divinely bestowed on us, or innately built into our temperament/personality, to qualify us for our unique path in life.  The origins of the word gift/talent (in both Hebrew and Greek) was attributed to a unit of weight or money, a large round coin, having value.

You see where I’m going with this?  Our gifts and talents have value.  And, when we give them to the world, our not unreasonable expectation is to see them appreciated, for the value they contribute to society.  When your gift/talent makes room for you in your culture, there is no greater satisfaction.  One of my favorite collected sayings is, “There’s nothing quite like being understood – with no defending, no explanation, just an extension of a hand, an expression that says, ‘I get it’….” B. Diaz

My writing career has been in the background of my day jobs, for decades.  But it is my first-love-career.  I love writing.  And, when someone appreciates it, it is a joy-elevated-into-the-heights.  So, to those of you who shared your appreciation, and if you indeed hung in with me for the long version of my thank you, thank YOU so very much; it means awfully much to me; and YOU are a gem in my crown!  BLESS YOU 🙂

I Would Have Preferred Biscuits

As dreams go, this one was an enigma, until I dug a little deeper to the simplicity of the message in it.

Leader of a menu-planning session, I  suggested putting biscuits – bread, the sustenance of life, on the menu.  Quickly I was reminded that a plan was already in place for pocket bread.  Oh-kay?! That was the dream.

The meaning of the dream was about the contrast between one’s belief of the way everyday life will unfold – the idea of it, versus the reality of it.

Biscuits – simple, easy, and quick; under 30 minutes from start to hot bread.  Contrast this with pocket bread – two hours and seven steps later, you can fill this delectable bread.

So, the gist is that I want a little bit of ease in my daily life (biscuits).  Doesn’t everybody?  Getting from A to B is often so very complicated (pocket bread).

However, the reality is that life is more often than not, not linear, simple, easy, nor as prompt as we would like.  It goes off on safari.  It goes on walkabout.  It goes over to la-la-land.  No straight line, more like a jumbled mess of a rambling map to everywhere, nowhere, then, back around to “go,” and I didn’t even get to collect $200 (Monopoly game?!).

No biscuits for you!  You make pocket bread!

Alright.  Bread is bread.

Are We a Culture So Grieved by 21st-Century Life That We Are “Economical with the Truth?”

Grievances, grievances, grievances, all over the place!  We are a people put out with this person, that group, that agency, this government entity, those people….  People are angry with everybody, and are lashing out!  Our feelings seem to have peaked and are ready to blow at the LEAST provocation.  Watch out, you may be the one who gets the fallout next!

Today I am choosing not to exercise my grievances.  We all experience injustices.  Life, it seems is not fair; we rarely get what we deserve.  Nobody deserves cancer.  Nobody deserves depression.  Nobody deserves discrimination.  Nobody deserves poverty.  Nobody deserves to lose a child.  No child deserves to lose a parent.

Apparently, justice is not about merit or we would all have what we deserve.  Justice seems to be, rather, about authority, with our God ultimately at the helm, and elected officials under Him in its distribution among us mortals.  Our role is to trust, hope, and exercise faith in the “system,” both divine and human.

What is justice?  It appears to be in the eye of the beholder, just as is beauty.  I despise that feeling of being ripped off, don’t you?  It makes you want to fight back.  Ever heard of retribution, retaliation, revenge, blame, and reparation?  Do these things really make you feel any better, heal you, or resolve injustice?

It seems like many of the television dramas I watch, which include a smattering of European and Australian television, depict corrupt justice officials.  If “justice is blind” – these corrupt justice ministers depict “the blind leading the blind” – two different metaphors entirely.  In fact, a justice minister (emerging to be corrupt, by the way), in the Acorn TV Swedish series, The Truth Will Out, said, “Indignation and sentiment are given priority over objectivity and actual proof.”  Seems a true statement, if only justice were blind.

What is life if not drama, if the old adage is true, “art imitates life?”  In another show, I don’t remember which one, a woman accusingly said to someone who had ripped her off, “you’re very economical with the truth.” I think I cheered out loud, not just in my head.  This is one of those sayings I collect, it so resonated with my own sense of “economical or miserly justice.”

Personally, I air my indignation with my mouth, often using a certain favorite four-letter word, either in my home with my husband-confessor, as sounding board, or in the woods between me and my God.  It is always a private exercise; not a public one.  This is neither the right way or wrong way to air one’s grievances.  It works for me because the therapeutic airing is always followed by sincere repentance in the age-old tradition of Confession.  In this way I get to spew my injured feelings and receive absolution, and all is forgiven and forgotten, until next time. None of my dirty laundry stays that way for eternity.

I wonder if this is the airing-confession-process that God meant when He said through the biblical Word, “Vengeance (Justice?) is mine says the Lord.  I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:17-19)?  After I have aired my grievance privately and repented for the “bad” feelings, it is blessedly out of my hands and my soul.  I’ve let it go, and placed it firmly into the capable hands of God.


Recycling and Woodland/Roadside Litter (Revisited)

Today I am prefacing this post, originally titled Every Day = Earth Day to Me – first shared on April 22, 2017, with an update and a Video link:

First, I speak of these things with a bit of experience.  We’ve been following the recycle-reduce-reuse mantra for more than 30 years, ever since I served on a faculty committee for environmental concerns at San Juan College.

At that time we also had our first and only baby.  We researched every environmental possibility for diapers and for use when home, we chose washable cloth diapers with built-in diaper covers (pictured; isn’t she cute?!), accompanied by biodegradable liners; as well as cloth diapers and insanely cute washable diaper covers (hidden away in the attic, no picture).

I naively thought recycling became mainstream but here we are in 2019 and Starbucks and other coffee franchises still use these throwaway plastic k-cups. What up Starbucks???

Recycling K-cups instead of binning them!!!!  The intended convenience of a K-cup seems to imply binning the end product.  Can you imagine the giant pile of these in the landfills?  This totally violates the third conservation principle (reduce) in the recycle, reuse, reduce mantra.  Again, what up Starbucks?  Click on the link for my FB video:

About Litter:  today in the course of my walk I picked up a Skyn wrapper, which I assume is a condom wrapper.  Ew!  Thank Jesus there was no condom (used or otherwise) in sight! You know who you are and what you did in the woods lol!!!  Did I say ew!!! 

So, littering continues at full force also in 2019.  Part of a throwaway- it’s not my problem” society.  I throw up my hands; well, not really, I use my gloved hands to pick up, sort and recycle or throw away the litter I come across.

The original 2017 post adapted from a prior essay:

What is it about Litter?

I am a walker. Mostly, I walk outside in the vicinity of my home, in nearby woods, along secondary and industrial roadways and some hiking trails – all with permission, special dispensation, and respect for privately owned property.

Few people, I hope, have seen me leaving my home along a rural route north of town, heading toward the woods and environs to the west.   I’m often donned in tall rubber boots, a fishing vest turned hiking vest, to carry all of the accoutrements deemed potentially needed in the woods (cell phone with notepad and camera at the ready, tissues, antibacterial soap, binoculars, whistle {I’m a little old-fashioned as to self-defense}, pepper spray, sun glasses or shooting glasses if it’s not sunny – to keep bugs out of my eyes, plastic “mackintosh square” for sitting on cold, wet, dirty things, lip balm, hair band, and the jury is still out on a small caliber hand gun – don’t judge me until you’ve almost run into a bear, fox, coyote or rattle snake while gaily trouncing along a trail minding your own business); and carrying a walking stick and in the summer, a small sabre-like stick, to whip away cobwebs crossing the trail. This costume is not intended for public consumption so I apologize to the few of you who have had to see this particular display of country charm, eccentricity, or kookiness – whatever your characterization might be.

I frequently pick up litter when I walk. No need for applause – I don’t “live for the applause…plause” – like Lady Gaga. Often, I’ll take bottles, cans and other recyclables home to include with my family’s recycling. I give golf balls to my neighbor – yes, golf balls. Sometimes, when there’s a plastic grocery- or fast food bag among the litter – or rarely, a black plastic garbage bag, I’ll fill it and discard it in a nearby commercial dumpster belonging to an industry I have permission to “police” for such disorder on their property; as it’s along my familiar walking route.

The thing about litter, discarded into natural spaces – for me, is that it doesn’t belong. You know, like those tests we took as kids when we were shown pictures of an orange, a pineapple, an apple and a bird – what doesn’t belong? Well, picture a brown bed of leaves, a rock-studded path, twigs and branches haphazardly strewn about, moss covered stones, trees in a dozen varieties, rotting logs, wild flowers, streams, butterflies; and an Aquafina bottle, a Galliker’s chocolate milk bottle, an empty pudding cup, a Budweiser can, a plastic takeaway bag, a Styrofoam coffee cup, an energy drink can, and a cigarette box – what doesn’t belong?

I’ve been startled and deeply unnerved more than once, when trouncing along in the woods, to notice all of a sudden, a dried-blood-coated deer carcass with accompanying hooves and unmentionable innards, almost taking my breath away. Even more disturbing; I’ve rarely, but surely seen a dog’s body, crudely shoved inside a black plastic trash bag. Those, I wait a year or more for decomposition and scavenging to take place before picking up and disposing of what has now become a torn up plastic bag.   Shudder. This gives a whole new meaning to seeing animals in the woods.

I once sat down on a big rock in the woods to ponder just what it is about our Pennsylvania woodlands that gives me such peace and momentary joy. I wrote in a text to my sister-in-law: “The bark on the tree I’m sitting next to is so smooth and beautiful. I’m meditating on the layers and textures that abound and compound in chaotic, natural randomness. When I leave my office-world and come to the woods I can just breathe and relinquish all control to God and appreciate the uneven, unexpected, natural terrain I encounter. It’s quiet.   It’s unplanned, un-manipulated and untrained; it just is.”   I think the woods teach me to just be.

When litter is strewn about in a natural setting, it really sticks out. It doesn’t blend in like the sometimes chaotic naturally occurring mess made by nature – dead things, jagged or sharp edges, misshapen growth or broken things.   Litter is a disorder of another kind.

Then there’s the litterer. Who are these mysterious individuals? I say this because rarely does one actually witness said littering.   They must be stealthy night-crawlers, driving about in the wee hours of the night, incognito, leaving the evidence of their existence behind them, at the curb of the woods. Because they litter under the cover of darkness; does that mean they know it’s wrong?

Can a person’s character be determined by the fact that they are a litterer? When I was growing up, there was a missive about people who litter or dump trash along roadways; or people whose property is strewn with junk – “Were they born in a barn?” In fact, I’ve mumbled that to myself on occasion when I’m picking up someone’s litter.

When I’m picking up litter, I sometimes wonder about what a person is thinking when they toss a bottle or cigarette carton, a can or a bag out of their vehicle window to the natural berm and beyond. And, I wonder what very real human drama precipitated someone balling up a necktie and throwing it alongside the road!

I know when I was around nineteen years old I tossed a nearly full pack of cigarettes out the car window, assuaging the guilt at having smoked a few of the dastardly tubes of tobacco.   But, then on the other hand, I believe on that same car trip, my toddler nephew stood, unrestrained, on the passenger seat – it was the seventies and thank God, we survived them. I’ve heard it said that you can determine a person’s character by what he or she does with empty grocery carts in the supermarket parking lot – what does littering say?

On the other hand, I’m no judge, priest or preacher and I wouldn’t want my young nineteen-year-old lapse taken as the sole indicator of my own character. I, therefore judge not the litterers of which I refer herein. I forgive you; please forgive me.

I get it that sometimes litter is disbursed into natural areas by the wind. In fact, we’ve lost more than one grill cover and tarp – never to be recovered; I found one grill cover in the nearby woods, recovered and recycled it, to be lost again and never found. Things like cardboard boxes, Styrofoam packing material, single work gloves, tie-backs, and similar debris is probably unintentional litter.

Without getting into a diatribe on the commercial history of the United States, I will say that the case of roadway litter began in the 1950s simultaneous with the buy new, throw away the old manufacturing slogan along with its non-renewable packaging ideal. Keep America Beautiful was a 1953 campaign of the packaging industry. Ladybird Johnson spearheaded the Beautification Act of 1965, further attempting to police American roadsides of ugliness, including litter.

Pennsylvania anti-litter laws, effective in 1977, are incorporated into the Vehicle Code (Title 75, Chapter 37 – 3709). The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) considers intentional litter – a “behavioral choice based on apathy, lack of social pressure to do the right thing, ignorance of the law and an absence of realistic penalties or consistent enforcement, or it is a social rebellion and a disregard of authority.”

Some studies have shown that people under the age of 30 are particularly at risk for littering and in locations where few receptacles are available and accessible. I’ve thought of creating some sort of basketball-hoop equipped trash receptacles at a couple of spots at the secondary/industrial roadway intersections of my walking path – who doesn’t love tossing a bottle or a can through a hoop, to test one’s aiming talents – especially from a slowly moving vehicle?   Of course, this no doubt presents more legal obstacles than I’m interested in fighting – an activist, I am not.

I’ve also thought about why it is that I’m so moved to concern about litter and others clearly are not; and what’s the difference between us? I mean, there are moments when I really can’t understand what moves someone to throw an object of litter out of a vehicle. Why? Were they never taught that it’s wrong; not to mention illegal? Are littering laws ever enforced? Why not hold on to that object until you get to a location – work, home, store or somewhere where there’s a trash can? Are their vehicles immaculately tidy and they can’t tolerate trash in them even for a finite moment in time? I don’t think so. What do they think happens to that discarded item? Do they know that I pick it up?

I think surely, litterers don’t walk. They don’t see, up close and personal, like me, what their litter looks like against a wooded landscape. Their focus is instead, on getting back to work from lunch break or getting home after a long day at work. Litter, to them, I hope is just an unthinking, reflexive or even distracted act – not at all an intentional affront to nature or the law.

A litter conundrum confronted me recently. It was a slide-lock bag with what looked like feces inside. I’m guessing – hoping actually that the contents of that bag were bequeathed by a dog, its owner’s attempt to be conscientious and pick up his or her pet’s excrement, in an effort to be responsible. However, how did it get left behind as litter at the entrance to a hiking trail? I drew the line at picking up that little dainty at that time – a bit of shock momentarily precluding the good deed. However, a day later, armed with a plastic bag and a tank of antibacterial soap, I picked it up and discarded it in the trash.

Why do I care? Sometimes I don’t. I can walk by without picking up stuff I see, but not always. I’ve said this before, part of the joy of not owning the property I walk, is I don’t have to take care of it, police it, defend it, possess it, or clean it up; but I also can, if I want to – as a favor, kindness, generosity of spirit or principled stewardship of the earth. Occasionally it’s none other than OCD tendencies – neatness, order, tidiness, perfection, and control over something which I can do something about.   Ce la vie.