Underneath my kitchen sink is a bucket where I throw vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds – anything suitable for composting. I keep the pail there so that I don’t have to walk out to the compost pile in the middle of making dinner, but ideally, I make that walk a little later. Like after dinner. Or possibly the next day.
Only, sometimes, I forget. It is tucked away under the sink behind the cabinet door, after all.
But do you know what happens to vegetable scraps and egg shells and coffee grounds that are thrown in a bucket under the sink? They go ahead and start composting, right there in the bucket. And it only takes a day or two for the process to start.
Imagine what happened a few weeks ago when, here in Indiana, we had weeks of snow, followed by ice, followed by snow, followed by frigid temperatures. I didn’t actually forget to take out the compost bucket. I just didn’t think it was a good idea to dump the scraps on top of so much frozenness. So day after day, I would add potato peelings or broccoli stems or orange peels, and day after day, the smell would get worse and worse each time I opened the lid.
Eventually, the bucket was completely full, but the great freeze outside hadn’t broken. I left the bucket under the sink and actually began throwing the scraps and shells into the trash, each time feeling as though I was robbing some future garden of the nutrition it would need. After a few days, though, throwing the scraps in the trash seemed normal. The bucket under the sink, forgotten.
When the temperatures finally rose and the snow melted and something about the feeling of Spring reminded me that the bucket was still full, I it out to the compost pile. When I dumped it, the contents had rotted, nearly liquefied in fact, with a few unrecognizable chunks thrown in the mix — too much green material and too much time under the kitchen sink. Now, it wouldn’t even contribute much to the composting process.
Lesson learned: In order to optimize the composting process, I need to throw out the scraps regularly.
I have to admit that the compost bucket under the sink isn’t the only smelly mess in my life.
Back in January, when I gave 2011 the name “empty,” I cleared out closets and drawers and memories and commitments and felt free of many of the scraps I had been holding onto. But why does my life still feel too full — painfully full of the things that don’t satisfy?
I am realizing that just like the compost bucket, my life needs to be emptied onto the scrap heap on a regular basis to experience the benefit of letting things go.
I am a hoarder of food and books and ideas and activities, and unless I continually submit them all to Jesus, and let him tell me what to keep and what to toss, I risk creating more idols, risk letting more scraps rot under the sink.
Liquefied and useless.
The bucket under the sink isn’t full yet, but as I write, I remember that I haven’t emptied it in a couple of days. If I do it now, if I take the time this very minute and do what isn’t even very hard, the scraps will decompose properly, becoming a healthy part of my compost pile now, and next summer, becoming part of my garden.
Producing a harvest that will satisfy.