“I’m too busy this morning to sit around, Jesus, but I’d be happy if you joined me in the car. I’ve to go to the public skip in Arbroath with household rubbish.”
“So you’re careful about dealing with waste, but you go a round trip of 25 miles to dump it?”
“It’s the nearest for non- recyclables, and anyway, my car is electric, so there will be zero emissions. Besides it’s a pleasant trip. So, you’ll come with me?”
“Yes. I don’t think I’ve been invited into an electric car before.”
“But you have travelled by car?”
“Many times. Often people have invited me when the journey was dangerous, or stressful or sad. So I am aware of modern transport. For people who have known travel where camels were the speediest, your forms of travel seem like madness.”
“Welcome to my car. You’ll note that it’s very quiet, as well as clean.”
“In my Judaean life, 25 miles was a day’s journey, and you’re undertaking it because your habits are so wasteful.”
“Are you just going to criticise all the time? If so, I’ll regret my invitation. Or maybe you can see this rich farmland we’re passing through. Look at these golden fields with the grain already bundled!”
“But one of my farmer friends was complaining that his potato harvest was ruined because there had been hardly any rain.“
“I worked with farmers not so long ago, and I can tell you they are not often happy. But here they have such good land that they’ve been able to maintain small and medium – sized farms, family farms you might say, which are less industrial than the big farms further south. Many of them have kept their trees, or even added to them, as you can see.”
“Trees were a luxury in Judaea. These are wonderful, still green after all the heat they’ve had. And if I look the other direction, I can glimpse the sea, as I could when I lived and worked in Galilee.”
“Can I ask you a question about that?
“I can imagine you working. But what about the business side of things? Did you give estimates to your customers? And bills? Did they always pay promptly?”
“Some people in the villages worked with money – there was Jewish, Roman and Greek money in circulation- but mostly we worked by informal credit. I would say, mend a boat, and I might get supplied with fish every week, or maybe the fish would go to the baker whom I owed for bread, and so on. If someone was I’ll or injured their credit would be good until they recovered. We trusted our neighbours, except the ones we didn’t trust. With them I did the job in stages, taking an immediate payment after each. I learned all this from my father.”
“And did you ever ‘forgive your debtors’?”
“Yes, if someone just couldn’t pay, I would wipe it out. I might also ask him to work with me, to restore his credit. We all did this, some more than others maybe, but we all knew that if the community cared, we all benefitted.”
“Sounds good to me. Thanks.
“Why are all the other cars passing us?”
“Because I am driving at 56 miles an hour which is the optimum speed for this vehicle, and I’m not in a hurry.”
“Some of them must be doing nearer 100 miles an hour, are they very busy or stupid?”
“ Just stupid, I’m afraid. The legal limit is 70. This road is seldom busy, so it’s not very dangerous. On a busy road, these people are killers. Also they are often careless – oh look at that, he just threw all that rubbish out of his car onto the road.”
“He wants his car to be clean?”
“Yes. Now, this is Arbroath, a town of many churches, including the ruins of a very old Abbey. There’s a sense here that faith is part of their identity. Maybe it’s a fisher thing.
“It was in Galilee.”
“ We’ve taken a kind of ring road, mainly because my daughter used to live up to the left there. When she was very ill, I drove here at all times of day and night to help her. She was alcoholic, with lots of mercy for others but no mercy for herself. She died of booze.”
“Yes. But how…?”
“She is with me. She keeps telling me I didn’t teach enough about animal rights.”
“I miss her.”
“This is the recycling facility or skip as I call it. You have to tell the gatekeeper what sort of rubbish you’ve got, and he tells you where to put it. I’ve got plastics and paper. See, what a cheerful man he is. So now we do what he told us.
“It’s interesting, here. A place for rubbish, but it’s clean and orderly. A place for everything. And everything in its place. Staff doing their jobs and citizens cooperating. Many drivers say thank you. It does good for your homes, your towns and for the planet.”
“So now we turn round to go home, but I’ll go via Easthaven, which is beautiful.”
It’s a small seaside community who decided to keep their beach tidy, and its toilets open and to beautify the place with flowers.
“Yes, and it works. We’re turning into the car park now. See, there’s no rubbish lying around. We can walk down to the beach. The tide’s out.The coastal path from Dundee to Arbroath passes through here, and it’s well used.
“And there’s man putting his fishing boat into the sea. A fine vessel, clinker- built. I wonder if I could still build one. Yes, at the shore here, looking out, it’s lovely.
“When Eleanor was ill I used to come here and pray for her, and when she was dead I came to grieve.”
“And now, are you content to leave her with me?”
“No. I still want her here with me.”
“But I’m here.”
“You’re no substitute for her.”
“And I don’t want to be. Well done. You just have to live with your loss.
“You’re such a comfort, Jesus. Let’s go back home now.”