Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Matthew 15:17:

"Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?"

When my septic contractor got to unclogging me further up the sewer line, to at least "get me running" until he could come back and make more permanent repairs, he also discovered I had quite a clog higher up the line. It took some pressure with the hose and a lot of ramming with the sewer tape to bust it up. When he finally did break through, the photo above is an example of what flowed out of my line.

After he had left, I got curious. This orange-white stuff was not exactly what I expected. I poked it with a stick and kind of looked it over. Sure, a lot of what is in here is...well...crap. MY crap. Since I live alone, other than the occasional visitor or house guest, well, it's pretty much MY crap. But it obviously had other things in it. As I got to thinking, I realized that much of the stuff that made up this clog was material other than simply human waste. Things like kitchen grease, hair, laundry dirt, and soapsuds grunge. It wasn't just waste but was also the residue of things I had done to feed myself and clean my clothes and clean myself in the shower. It was a clog made up of not just indigestible refuse, but of attempts to be "clean."

When I broke it up with the stick some more, I noticed it was layered...almost like the layers surrounding a geode. Layers upon layers upon layers. Who knows how many years this had been building up.

The surprising realization, I guess, is that there were entities other than things I would recognize as my own "waste" in this clog, and that some of them would have been from my attempts to "be clean," or "clean the world around me," like the dirty dishes.

I've always maintained there are two kind of people in the world--the people who think they are never responsible for anything that goes wrong, and the people who think they are always responsible, somehow, for everything that goes wrong. I tend to be one of the latter. I have not quite claimed to be the cause of earthquakes and tsunamis, and I haven't quite taken on the characteristics of Lisa's "International Blame Lauren Day", but I have self-assigned fault to plenty of things that were not of my making, and felt guilt for plenty that was not really my doing.

But as I looked at the stuff that made up this clog, I realized the things in it like the soapsud leftovers, and the lint, and the hair, and the kitchen grease were all things that went down that sewer from good intentions. To be clean and presentable, I had to put the grime down the drain. To eat a nutritious meal in a clean dish, I had to wash the grease and grunge from the dishes and pots and pans from the previous meal. It wasn't just the willful depositing of my own human waste. I was blaming "my crap" as the "fault" of the clog. Yeah, there was some there, but it really wasn't ALL of what clogged my sewer line. Really, a lot of what clogged my sewer line was simply the residue of the world, and "the residue of good intentions."

It's just another view of that most maddening mystery that is perhaps the one I most often go back to--the saint/sinner paradox. Even "good" things can leave "bad" residue. "Bad" things are not always to blame for "bad" happenings.

Maybe the point of recognitions like these is not to study and debate "what's in the clog" but to simply unclog it. Remove the clog and start over, realizing that, yes, it WILL get clogged again--and probably by the same exact stuff--but that next time, we won't wait until the whole system collapses to unclog it.


I can believe this. Our bathroom drain often gets clogged . . . not from hair as one might expect, but from our toothpaste. I find it maddening.

And I related because I tough tend to be a "blame myself for everything" person.

As so often, I find your perception of this situation to be, well, perceptive and enlightening. And when I reached your final conclusion, "Remove the clog and start over," it literally felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

Well, Ruth...and if we get clogged up's just a matter of repeating the process, you know? I think we get many chances for do-overs in our lives until we all reach the ultimate do-over at the end.

LOL! Only Maria!! Hon, you're about the only person I know who would go analyzing the sewer gunk. Am I surprised? No. You're fearless in your inventory ... of yourself and the world around you. I quite admire that, y'know.

Well, and there is Biblical precedent. Remember the fig tree in Luke 13? If Jesus can tell a parable where spreading manure is a good thing, I am in good company!

True enough.

But the serious thought behind my flippant comment is this: I admire the courage in your willingness to do what I call "sift through the shit."

...and it's much obliged!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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