For years now I have loved searching for river glass. I also like looking for lake glass and ocean glass – but our family doesn’t get to the lakeshore or to the ocean nearly as often as we get to a river. Our hikes here in Kentucky and in Tennessee often take us near rivers – so I most often get to go on river glass expeditions. I look for river glass while the McFarland sons look for wildlife and throw rocks (but never – ever – ever at the wildlife).
I have whole jars just filled with the broken bits and pieces of glass that I have collected over the years. Each piece of glass is a treasure. Each piece of glass intrigues me. Each piece is different. Some are clear while others are opaque. Some of the pieces are brown. Some are blue. Others are green. I have just a few extra special red pieces. And I remain ever hopeful of finding an incredibly rare orange piece (those are old and were most often poison bottles). I have teeny – tiny pieces, and I have some pieces that are quite clearly the bottom or top 1/3rd of a bottle. Some pieces have writing that you can read. Coca-cola and Budweiser being the messaging I most frequently read about on my river glass . . .
River glass tends to be rougher around the edges. It won’t cut you – but it usually isn’t smoothed out like a pebble.
Now lake glass on the other hand is smooth like a pebble. The lake’s waves wear away the rough, jagged edges, and the pieces that you find in a lake tend to be much smaller than those you find in a river.
Searching for river glass is a twist on the saying – “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Because that is literally what river glass it. It is trash. It is pollution from a careless – thoughtless litterbug who was just plain too lazy to put their glass bottles in the recycling or at the very least into a trash can. Instead – the litterbug chucked their beer bottles and their coke bottles and their trash into the river. They clearly weren’t listening to Woodsy the Owl when he admonished all of us to “Give a hoot and don’t pollute!” I am a huge fan of Woodsy the Owl and Smokey the Bear. I both give a hoot, and I remember that only I can help prevent forest fires!
(Yes – I AM being rather judge-y. I realize this makes me hypocritical since I think littering is wretched behavior and yet I love looking for river glass. Life is complicated. Actually life is really – really complicated!)
Okay – so back to the river glass. I/we have collected quite a bit of river glass over the COVID-19 time of social distancing. We have been spending a lot of time outside – not because of COVID-19 necessarily – but because it is spring. And Jack and I have found some seriously cool pieces for our collection.
And we have more than filled a whole new glass container with the broken pieces of river glass that we have collected both here in Kentucky and in Tennessee all while safely social distancing – of course. We are very big on following the rules of social distancing. (Actually – we are pretty big on following the rules in general at our house.)
Every time we collect river glass – I am amazed by how beautiful it is. It is junk. It is litter. It is pollution. And yet – after being washed in the river for months or years or sometimes even for decades – it is beautiful. What was once dangerous and sharp and jagged – is now smoothed out. It is lovely and unique. It sparkles in the sunlight – especially once you take the time to wash all of the mud off of each piece.
River glass makes me think of what Jesus has done for each of us when he died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus took our brokenness – our polluted natures – our jagged messed up selves and smoothed those out with his love – grace – and mercy. Yes – we still clearly show the signs of our brokenness and our very human humanness – but we are made different by God’s love. We are changed. We are transformed by God’s grace.
I also cling to the hope that we will be changed by our time of living through COVID-19. That this time will have made us different. That we will have taken this time to think and to reflect and to consider our relationships with God and with one another. That this time will make us more thoughtful – kinder – more compassionate – and more understanding of others. After all – we are all just trying to make our way through this life as best as we are able. We are all just trying to cope during these stressful times and to do what feels best for our families.
(Except for the littering – bit – I don’t think I will ever understand the littering. . .)
In Christ and with Love –