Heaven…and the Litterbug

I was running errands one afternoon last week and it was absolutely gorgeous outside! I had the windows down and was cruising along one of my favorite roads in the area. It has these mature trees that arc gracefully over the hilly stretches. Some of them were bare; some had yellow-green buds that flirted with the light breeze. The sun filtered through the branches, creating a dappled play of light and shadow over the road. The flowering trees were even better, though. In full bloom now, some of the more delicate branches bowed gently beneath the weight of the thick, creamy blossoms that clustered there.

The sapphire sky was the perfect backdrop for the white clouds that drifted languidly overhead, and I didn't mind a bit when I had to stop behind a line of cars to wait for a passing train. I took a deep breath, inhaling the delicious, heady fragrance of springtime while the sun warmed me through the windshield. As I sat there admiring all this beauty, my thoughts turned philosophical, and I considered how amazing our earth really is—what an awesome creation God made.

I mean seriously, He didn't have to make rainbows, or fragrant flowers or the incredible colors of fall. He didn't have to make places like sparkling Lake Michigan with its white sand beaches, or sunsets. He didn't have to make chocolate. (Oops! I digress, I was talking about nature.) He didn't have to create any of it. But He did. He created it for our enjoyment. Then my thoughts drifted along the lines of, "Wow, as cool as all this is, Heaven's going to be even more amazing."

That's when I smelled it.

The dude in the white sports car in front of me had taken a big ol' drag from his cigarette, blowing the smelly smoke right out his open window where it drifted back into mine. Ugh! No longer was I breathing in the heady scent of flowering trees, I was breathing in yucky second-hand smoke. I frowned. We were still stopped for the train and I was trapped. As I contemplated whether to roll up my window, I saw him take another long drag then flick the cigarette butt out onto the road.

Are you kidding me?! We're surrounded by all this incredible beauty and he just trashes it? Almost instantly this public service announcement from the 70s popped into my head.

1974 Keep America Beautiful

A struggle took place within me. I came within seconds of getting out of my car, marching up to the dude's window, tapping politely and asking if his ash tray was broken. But I'd hesitated too long, the train had past and we'd begun moving forward again. However, I couldn't get the flashback of that commercial out of my head.

When I shared this story with my daughter, she gave me a comforting hug. "Mom, I think you're just upset because that guy put cigarette smoke and litter in your Heaven. But you really shouldn't get out of your car and approach a stranger."

Um, I guess I vaguely recall teaching that concept to her when she was younger. And I suppose she's right. Maybe. But then again, I'm not a little kid. I'm a perimenopausal 47-year-old now. I don't know, I think next time I might just do it.

At least there's one good thing, I'm fairly certain there won't really be any cigarette smoke or litter in Heaven.


Cassandra Frear said...

I adore the smell of lilacs in the evening.

When my son was young, we gave him a plastic camera. He took pics of everything. When we went out, he took pics of people who smoked. He said they must be bad -- suspicious at least. He said those snap shots might come in handy later, even be helpful to the police.

And let me tell you, the perimenopausal woman is a force of nature. That's what I tell my husband.

"You're married to a force of nature."

Heidi Willis said...


(It kinda stinks when all that stuff we drill into kids comes back to bite us, though, doesn't it?)

Aspen Real Life said...

Just be thankful that you are not that cigarette smoker, in a car, oblivious to the scents of spring!

It is he who suffers and that is most unfortunate.

We can't teach everyone how to appreciate our world but we can certainly try.

Tina T said...

I love getting fresh air, and I too hate when it is violated by someone's cigarette smoke. My biggest pet peeve is people who smoke on the hiking trail. Is that really the best way to enjoy nature?

Annette Piper said...

How wonderful you able to see past your chores, the traffic and more to appreciate the day! Boo to the guy with the cigarette - he was obviously still stuck his normality rather than raised above it.