Our City Is A Mess

My daughter and her family lived in Nyon, Switzerland for four years. This town, with its current population of almost 20,000, is described as “spick-and-span“. That was certainly how it appeared during the seven trips I made there. Not a flower was out of place; not a yard was neglected; not a speck of litter was to be seen anywhere.

The same can’t be said for Burlington, Vermont. Like Nyon, our small city is situated on a beautiful lake, with mountains – not quite as majestic as Mont Blanc, but strikingly beautiful all the same – serving as a scenic backdrop for our waterfront. Almost every day of the week I walk through several neighborhoods, from residential to student to the downtown area. It is almost overwhelming to see the garbage in the road, on the side of the road, in our yards and trapped in our bushes. Cigarette butts are everywhere. From outward appearances, we don’t much care how we look, and it saddens me. I pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures along my route (see above).

The Psalmist writes: Create in me a clean heart, O God. Jesus rails against religious professionals who obsess on outward appearances but neglect matters of inner purity. We are not particularly concerned with either. Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of appearances. It is literally a matter of life and death – for many of the species on our planet, and for us. Look at the clip from the movie “Midway” and see where the plastic we throw away every day ends up.

Burlington, Vermont is a microcosm, a small city in a small state. Create in me a clean heart, O God … and give me the resolve to care about the world that is all around me, too.

A blessed Tuesday.



Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.