When small plants are growing in the eaves troughs on your house, you know it is time for a cleaning. So there I was, up on the ladder scooping remnants of leaves, needles, and small plants into a garbage bag. Then the hose cleared the downspouts and the gutters (the term I grew up using) were running again. Everything was proceeding along nicely until I came to the gutter which runs along the roof edge over the deck and then takes a 90º turn to run along the side of the house. Here I found standing water, but not just any standing water – a biology lab of standing water – all manner of slime and sediment and plant life could be found in that gutter, particularly on the deck side. To my disappointment, no tadpoles were growing in the scum.
Two circumstances were responsible for this collection of nature – one was the wire plug used to prevent leaves from gathering and clogging the down spout. This plug had become so filled with gutter stuff it would not allow any water to run. Water that does not run is standing water and standing water becomes a biology lab. The second circumstance is found at the 90º bend. There is a slight rise in the middle preventing all the water on the deck side from running to the downspout – so the water in this portion of the gutter sits and becomes ‘gutter goop’. Pulling the plug is the easy repair (what a delight to see the water freely flowing into the downspout). The 90º corner will at some point have to be replaced.
Any number of analogies to our spiritual life can be found in this encounter with the gutters. For me, Jesus’ teaching on the impact of the Holy Spirit came to mind – the one who believes in Jesus “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). My experience in Christ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit should be one of water flowing free along the gutter – fresh, cleansing, pure, energetic, and vital for life. Too often it is not, but I am thankful for the removal of clogged plugs and the washing away of the gutter goop.