Thoughts along the path . . .


Highway Clean-up Project (and Random Act of Kindness)

I often write about events that happen “along the path,” with the word “path” as a metaphor for life’s journey.  This time though I am talking literally about a path—or more precisely a roadway.

Since 2002 the Baha’is of North Dumfries have been part of the Region of Waterloo’s Adopt-a-Highway program.  Twice a year we pick up litter along Cedar Creek Road, from Trussler to the 401 ramp. Each time we do this project I wonder who throws all of this stuff out of their car windows. Why does someone think it is ok to toss their junk and then expect someone else to pick it up or, the alternative, to just pile up along the road? Of course, sometimes items blow away from the back of a truck or a rooftop carrier, but that only accounts for a small portion.

Over the past 17 years we have seen some ordinary as well as odd (and sometimes disgusting) items. More important than detailing that, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the importance of protecting our environment, on reducing waste in the first place, and in recognizing significance within our individual actions. While I am not suggesting that anyone reading this is among those who litter our land, surely we all can improve our daily habits and be increasingly mindful of our role in taking care of the planet and each other.

Over the years there have been encouraging moments. Sometimes a driver has passed us with a friendly honk; some wave their hand or offer a thumbs-up. And then there’s the other extreme, fortunately only a few times over the years, when someone passed by and deliberately threw litter at us, for reasons I can’t even begin to understand.

Getting back to the positive side of things, after our project we usually go out together for a late-breakfast or coffee.  This past weekend we chose the latter, meeting at Tim Hortons for coffee.  It was a lovely late-summer afternoon, and sitting outside was glorious. But I never could have guessed what one of our volunteers would carry to our table.

Along with her smile she brought a box with a dozen donuts, given to her along the roadway by a woman who just happened to drive by, saw what was happening, went to the Coffee Time on Fisher Hallman Road, and returned to Cedar Creek Road to give one of our four clean-up teams a box with this message written on the inside of the cover:  “Thank you for doing what you are doing. The world needs more beautiful souls like you. Have an amazing day.”

I will probably never know who did this, and I suspect she is happy to stay anonymous. I feel touched by her kindliness and inspired by her generosity. And while I would prefer to live on a planet where no one litters, I am grateful to know that we have done at least a little bit to clean up the environment and offer our time in service.



Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer October 2018

© Jaellayna Palmer, 2018