earlier this week a friend and i decided to spend a few hours kayaking on the Chicago River, yep the river that runs through the city and the river that they dye green for St. Patty's day (and the one that remains green for weeks after). it was a beautiful day and for the most part an uneventful trip down river, minus the moment in which a tug boat operator (captain?) asked us to just play around a bit up stream so he wouldn't run us over with the barge he was pushing (did you know tug boats don't tug they push...just a little random fact for you)
Part of what we noticed was the incrediable amount of filth, trash, and debris in the river. We would see who could find the most random object floating in the river, from the "how did that get here" to the "why did that get here" to the "i don't want to know that is in here". I even found a grapefruit, but opted not to eat it.
then we came upon it . . . the aeration station. Large tubes that blew air through the water from the depths of the water. At first it looked like we drove through someones bubble bath then after the foamy top cleared the water was pristine. not for long but in the 1/2 mile that followed this aeration station the water was clean and the fish plentiful. The very thing that gives life to water (AIR) had completely changed the environment nearest the source, however you travel to far from that source and the debris begins to reappear the stagnate water films over and wildlife is not so active.
let me make a quick tie to life really obvious in this moment; when we remain close to the life source (Christ) we have an environment, a personality if you will that is completely different then the pressures of the world that surround us. but as we navigate life away from our source we begin to cave to the environmental pressures that surround us.
no matter how much we try, through our own power to beautify ourselves, we will fail. and when we fail we will succumb to the pressure around us. what do i mean by this? take a look at the picture below. What do you see?
a factory? pollution? if your good with details you may have seen the life saver. but do you see the beauty? no this isn't some artistic interpretation this is hidden beauty. ok let me help you out. . . see the brick posts on the right and left side. there is an iron fence running between them and every so many feet there is a planter box of red and yellow flowers. can you see them now? there are 5 in this picture... ok i know it is not the greatest picture in the whole world (remember i took this from a kayak) but they weren't that easy to see in person either. . . why not. because the ugliness that lies behind this attempt at beauty over powers us. the reality of everything else over powers the attempt to beautify this.
as i sat there thinking of all my attempts to beautify parts of my life that are simply sinful it happened.... I succumb to the environmental pressure that surrounded me. i am ashamed to even type it. my mother would be so disappointed. it has taken me 3 days to post this blog because of it. here i am sitting my kayak both convicted of attempts to cover my sin with unnoticeable beauty and at the same time impressed that someone would put all the effort into attempting to add beauty into a spot that looked hopeless (that is a whole different sermon) and then . . .
i wish i could say it just happened that i didn't even think about it that it was involuntary that if i had thought about it i would never have done it .... but i can't say that because i did think about it and i did weigh my choices and i choose wrong...even when i knew it was wrong i some how justified myself into thinking it was excusable because of the environmental pressure.... i spit my gum into the river.