Today, members of my congregation and several other United Church of Christ congregations in Fremont, California, gathered in Fremont’s Central Park to pick up trash.  This is part of the UCC’s “Mission 4/1 Earth” project.  Being the pastor of one of the participating churches, I couldn’t get away right after worship, get changed, and get to the marshalling point – so I arrived late and missed the orientation.  But I figured that picking up trash wouldn’t be too hard to figure out on my own.

Because I was not with the group, I ended up doing most of my hour of picking up trash by myself.  I had a plastic bag from a loaf of bread as my trash bag, which caused a bit of a commotion with I got to an area by Lake Elizabeth that was inhabited by a bunch of some fowl I can’t identify (maybe you can?).  Amazingly, they saw the bag and assumed that it was filled with stale bread, because I turned around to see a bunch of them following me.  It was not the greeting I expected.

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I noticed two other things.  One was that about two-thirds to three-quarters of the items I picked up were cigarette butts.  It amazes me that people still think it’s okay to just toss their cigarette butts onto the grass.  The other thing I noticed was that after just an hour of bending over to pick up trash, my back and hips were aching.  It made me very appreciative of the people who do stoop labor to harvest food for me to eat.