While reading a National Geographic the other day, I came across an article of the eking out of life what you can. In that article were several photographs of men, women and children who actually made their living out of what they found in the garbage dump; not only making their living there, often it was their home. I remember asking myself that in a third world country like the one displayed, just how much useful stuff could they find? Evidently enough, there are thousands upon thousands of folks living in and from it.
I remember as kids we would go with our dads to take a load to the dump. While they did all the work, we would scramble over the mounds of garbage and find so many neat things. It was like a treasure hunt making true the statement; “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.”
As I was thinking on this subject, I realized that my thoughts were on the fact that life, with all its trappings and goings on, becomes much like a garbage dump. We just discard what we don’t want. Also leaving behind what we no longer want to do or be and so, before long it all starts to pile up. After many lifetimes of millions of people and events, the garbage pile has grown out of control; or so it seems. Within this worldly phenomenon we have developed smaller enclaves called cities and within these cities; the ‘street.’
Some will take offence at my including the street in this conversation, but in truth it is only one of many garbage dumps within any city. By calling it the street, I’m referring specifically to the addicted, the drug trade and the chaos within it. With all the focus lately on the messes left by the drug users, it is not too long a stretch to call it a dump. Here’s where the story can hopefully take a turn to the positive.
Two or three hundred years ago, on a beach on the African coast, a man was poking through the debris left on the beach by storms from the sea and erosion from the inland. He discovered what looked like opaque and also some clear stones. Putting them in his pocket, he later showed them to a jeweller who identified them as diamonds in the rough. Although this man profited handsomely from these stones, he found it incredible that such extreme wealth could be found amongst the garbage he had been digging through on the beach.
So it is when we poke through the garbage we find in a drug infested garbage heap on the street. In this garbage we call wasted life, we periodically find a blemished or rough looking stone which when it is taken and worked with, turns out to be a beautifully clear, brilliant diamond.
Of course, I’m not talking about stones, I’m referring to the people who live in the midst of all this anti-social matter left on the street. To those working in the field they look like a diamond in the rough, or rather a person ready and willing to change.
To see a person who has come out of a life of drugs and associated garbage and take on a whole new life is even more dramatic and beautiful than taking a stone and cutting it into a diamond. Like a diamond though, it takes a lot of cutting, grinding and polishing to end up with a person of great and lasting beauty.
At Potters Hands, both in the kitchen and in the fellowship, many times we have had the ultimate privilege and experience of being able to find and work with; A Diamond in the Rough.
Chris Salomons is the ktichen co-ordinator at Potter’s Hands.