Notes from Jan


September 15, 2022

Well, not the trash talking some do to distract or demean during a game? I’m talking about folks who pickup our trash. Imagine if the garbage of our lives just piled up outside the door? A while back, sanitation workers went on strike in NYC. It was neither a pretty sight, nor aromatic, as garbage clogged sidewalks and streets, while rats feasted.

So why this topic? Well, Sunday’s September 11th entry in Philip Yancey’s GRACE NOTES took me back to the 9/11, when terrorists attacked more than the World Trade Center. They did their worst. But over the following months, we saw some of the best come from ordinary folks, including trash collectors.

And that’s probably why the last paragraph in Yancey’s devotional still tugs at my heart.

“I saw three booths set up in a vacant building across from the WTC site: Police Officers for Christ, Firemen for Christ, and Sanitation Workers for Christ. (That last one is a charity I’d like to support.) Salvation Army chaplains had told me that the police and fire had asked for two prayer services a day, conducted on the site. The Red Cross, a nonsectarian organization, had asked if the Salvationists would mind staffing it. ‘Are you kidding? That’s what we’re here for!’ ” (p. 298)

And that would’ve been said with a smile and generosity of spirit that mark the Salvation Army.

So today, September 15th, in our fragile world, I wonder, “What am I here for? You?” And what titles, occupations do we value? Parents have dreams for their children. Any of us hope they’ll grow up to be a sanitation worker? But some have and, for sure, during the pandemic, we took notice of who really are the essential workers in our world.

Well, Mama never forgot. Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, she baked loaves of julekake, Norwegian Christmas bread. Mama gift wrapped in tinfoil, then gave one to the trash man. I loved that about her.

So did the garbage collector.

“Then he (Jesus) got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.”(John 13: 4-5, NLT)

Looks like nothing’s beneath Jesus.

Sacred stooping.

Bending to do the unthinkable, even for the unthankful.

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  • Reply dale September 17, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks Jan for keeping us humble. I cleaned “johns” 15 hrs./week at Wheaton and it prepared me for everything that has come since. Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 17, 2022 at 7:56 pm

      Me, too. I cleaned dorm bathrooms and worked in the dining hall. But Jud also worked for food service.Itt’s whre we first met in our freshman year. How fetching I must’ve looked in my hairnet! Well, love is blind, so some say.

  • Reply Wendy September 21, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    Beautiful <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 21, 2022 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks, dear Wendy. We’ve much to learn from each other. and from remembering how Jesus chose to bend power to serve others, not self.

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