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It's Not Easy Being Clean

Roman RubbishDespite a clear commitment to recycling, Rome is in the midst of a rubbish crisis. Everywhere, public bins are found in groups – one bin for glass, another for plastic, another for paper… you get the idea. And when you take out your recycling, there are the same range of skip bins available, so you can pre-sort it all before collection. Except over the last month, it’s not been picked up. The carefully distinct skips are all full to overflowing.

It strikes me as a decent metaphor for our lives. We’re getting better at recognising things about ourselves – bad habits we might have, patterns in how we stuff up our relationships, language we use that hurts others. We like to improve ourselves, so we work hard at being kinder to those we love, and better members of society. We take courses, consult professionals, and keep up with the latest ideas.

Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s mostly window-dressing. For every bad habit I manage to eliminate, I form another. It’s like we’re chasing our tails, spending big on effort and energy, but not quite making enough progress to justify it all.

The Bible records dozens of miracles performed by Jesus. It’s impossible to deny that a huge proportion of them involve curing lepers – or to use Jesus’ word for it, making them clean. It’s undeniable that the gospel writers wanted us to understand that Jesus had a reputation for removing our stains.

For people who dream of being better, that should make us prick up our ears. If we’re so willing to try the newest fad, we should also recognise the solution that people have been finding helpful for thousands of years…

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