Trash Cans in the Graveyard

Anita Helm

Traveling on an unfamiliar road,  I happened upon an unusual sight. Looking to my right, I saw a graveyard.  Seeing gravestones arrayed big and small felt familiar, but seeing three large trash cans was not!  In fact, seeing trash cans felt amiss, unsettling, and unwelcomed.  Just their presence felt invasive to what we living ascribe as the dead’s resting place. 

As I drove on, I kept repeating to myself,  “trash cans in a graveyard; trash cans in a graveyard?” My mind couldn’t process it.  I know what trash cans are for.  I know why groundskeepers and paying relatives would want them, but really?

That we living would be so lazy not to pick up after ourselves even at a graveyard irked me.  This was their resting place and we’d made it a dumping ground. Yes, the focus groups would say that hundreds of wilted flowers, candy wrappers, mildewed sweet nothings collect and the grounds must remain clean and tidy, but this.  They would pontificate and say they made the eyesores hidden behind the beauty of the maple trees. 

No grannies will see that their neighborhood had been invaded. Under the mounds of dirt, the dirt don't peak; the dead don’t complain and the dead don’t make trash.  We living do! We living thrive on convenience.  We living are offended by clutter and chaos. Both of our making.

That the final resting place be filled with bins of smelly leftovers, plastic wrappers and bug adorned yuk  should be of no concern to them.  Could we living inconvenience ourselves for just the trip to the graveyard? Could we put  ourselves out there to take away our own trash?  I guess not. 

That’s our problem.  A graveyard is the very place that should remind us  of the outcome of this life. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord for those who believe.  The body is the shell.  So many shells arrayed along the backroads and churchyards should prick our reality, but it doesn’t. 


For the living we surmise, who will see us litter.  Who will care? God sees.  If we disrespect Him, the dead and the living – He cares. The territory of the dead is not supposed to be our landfill.  His seeing eyes see everything- even in the graveyards.

Graveyards are the simplest reminder that we all will go back to where we come from. The reminder that we will all face our own dust to dust, ashes to ashes moment. 

The account for this life to the Great I AM is coming.  With God our opinions and innovations won’t matter. Our ideas for convenience will have little sway.  What we think will be irrelevant.  The only decision He will weigh will be the one concerning the acceptance of His Son. 

For this day consider the trash cans in the graveyard.  Consider today will you be selfless and allow the dead’s resting place to go unhampered with bins. Will you forsake the convenience and go home taking your faded remembrances with you. Will you remember that this day comes to us all? Will you remember that this day comes to us all? Will you make the decision that impacts the next life for eternity?

I hope this peak will stick you in the eye as it has mine. May our graveyards be beautifully manicured and  let us do our part. Let us lend our collective respect and honor to those who have no voice. May we prevent the need for trash cans in the graveyard.


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