Music & the Spoken Word: Picking up litter

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, June 6, 2021.

Some time ago, a motorist driving along a stretch of highway was intrigued to see three elderly women with large plastic bags, picking up trash along the roadside. The driver knew that highway cleanup was often assigned to fill a community service requirement — usually for those who had debt to pay to society. He smiled as he tried to imagine what these women could possibly have done to deserve this duty.

He saw them again the next day — and the next day and the next. Finally, his curiosity got the best of him, and he pulled over, leaned out the window, and said: “Excuse me. I’ve noticed you along this stretch of road for a week now. And I couldn’t help wondering what you did to get stuck with this job.”

The women looked at each other and laughed as they realized for the first time how they must look to passersby, according to the story shared by Gary Cook. One of them replied: “We didn’t get assigned to do this job. We chose it! We each live alone, but we go walking together every morning, and we noticed all this litter along the highway. So we figured that if every morning, during our regular walk, we stopped long enough to take just one bag of garbage out of the world, maybe we could make a difference!”

All of us share the resources of this world, and all of us have a vested interest in preserving it for future generations. But not all of us stop long enough to do something about it. The world is a more beautiful place because three walking companions decided to pick up some litter every day.

But there’s another lesson from their good turn. We also share the spiritual and emotional atmosphere of this world. And there are many kinds of debris that litter that environment — unkind words, hurtful actions, discouragement, heartache and loneliness. Wouldn’t it be a more beautiful place if each of us determined to dispose of this kind of litter — to take just one bag of garbage out of the world each day?

The kind deeds we do, the service we render, no matter how small, add to a growing circle of goodness. We can’t clean it all up at once, but as we each take our share of garbage out of the world, we make it a more beautiful place for everyone.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM,, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the, and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages