We’ve had a lot of rain lately– torrential bursts that turn our street into a river for a few minutes, before running into the sewer drains. In that time, many small objects come floating by our apartment– fallen leaves, pebbles, cigarette butts, discarded plastic spoons, candy wrappers, etc. The swift waters propel them from wherever they had been– someone’s drive, the alley, the parking lot–past houses and stores and toward the drains. Some of them end up clogging a drain, forming a small pile of trash where there was none before.
The opposite scenario is happening along several coastal areas, where debris is washing up from the ocean and landing on beaches, clogging up deltas and salt marches and having a terrible impact on the environment.
Flotsam and jetsam–the terms come up occasionally in literature or movies. There are characters in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” with those names. There is a chapter in Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy (the ninth chapter of the first book of The Two Towers, for purists) titled “Flotsam and Jetsam”. There is even a band by that name. They are almost always used in tandem, and most people use them interchangeably.
But there is a difference. Flotsam is considered debris that ends up in the water by accident, as in the case of a shipwreck. Jetsam is something deliberately thrown overboard or “jettisoned”. Legally, flotsam can be reclaimed by its original owner, while jetsam can by claimed by anyone who finds it. more about flotsam and jetsam from NOAA.
Most of what I’ve seen floating by this week is neither flotsam nor jetsam– it’s merely garbage. And that is what is causing so many problems along the coastlines, as well. Our lands and oceans (and our lives, too) can easily get overrun by waste and packaging and excess. We fill our lives with things that do not have any good purpose, and even if we dispose of them, they can come back to haunt us or hurt others down the road (or on another coast).
Today, I want to pray that God would continue to teach me to find my satisfaction in Him, and to watch out for spiritual flotsam and jetsam:
- Flotsam– those things, people, habits, beliefs, promises, warnings, etc. that get washed overboard or lost along the way. May God reclaim relationships, help me relearn good habits, and restore joy in my salvation (Psalm 51:12)
- Jetsam– those things I need to jettison–bad relationships, bad habits, faulty thinking, pride, clutter, etc. In His power, and with His help, I need to cast such things aside, or better yet, put them to death and bury them, never again to be reclaimed.