An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

The “boys’ beach retreat” ends later today, after three days in which Samuel and his friend mainly wanted to “chill” rather than go places. That’s been fine with me.

I hit the beach shortly after sunrise each morning and walk north to a condo just over two miles up the beach before turning around. I always take a grocery bag with me and pick up trash along the way, a small gift of self to other vacationers that gets the day off to a good start with good feelings. The bag is always overflowing by the time I reach the turnaround point.

I’m always amazed at the quantity and variety of what I find. Much of it remains from thirsty people with poor manners: lots of beer cans and a few soda cans, a few beer bottles and an occasional vodka bottle, quite a few plastic water bottles, scattered tops from all of the above. There are cigarette butts aplenty, and at least 30 drinking straws per mile, along with plastic lids, plastic bags, plastic wrappers, candy wrappers gum wrappers, and the occasional dirty diaper.

It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can disrespect such scenic public property by adorning it with their trash — it’s as if they think they own the place, but take no responsibility for it.

The Bible makes it clear that God owns the place — but has entrusted it to us to be stewards of the earth’s care. We can do that in ways both large and small, whether it’s picking up trash in a public place, or cutting down on the amount of weed-killers and fertilizers we use on the lawn, or advocating for laws designed to reduce widespread pollution or acid rain.

And, if we pay attention, every now and then God will remind us just whose world it really is.

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