A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ -Mark 1:40-41
What if we’re responsible for the things and people we touch?
At this moment,
no matter where you find yourself,
for sure you’re touching something manufactured.
Most likely you’re handling plastic,
wreathed as we are
in all things synthetic.
Let your eyes rest on a multitude of objects,
surfaces, clothes, and containers,
made in places distant, by fingers unseen.
Such miraculous manipulations of oil,
Earth’s ancient ancestral legacy,
now made solid and see-through, pliable and nearly everlasting.
Replacing wood and stone, leather and bone,
clay, glass, and steel,
the blessing of petrochemical polymers has become a blight.
Now, unless we radically redirect
this working, wanting, wasting spree,
three decades more and plastic trash will outweigh all the fish in the sea.
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. -Pope Francis
Whatsoever we do
unto to God’s good Creation
that we do unto to God’s precious people.
This is disaster of our own doing,
billions of lives— without exception or exemption—
trapped in spirals of consuming and discarding.
How can goods be good for us
if they’re not good for all,
for plants, plankton, people, for creatures great and small?
And how to disentangle
practiced patterns and appetites
from the ruination of creation, throwing life and lives away?
They have made my land a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no one lays it to heart. -Jeremiah 12: 11
Perhaps, like all things “soiled”,
imperceptibly it starts,
as sap in Springtime rises with the warming wind.
We become aware, we look around, we reach out
to whatever crosses our palms or graces our eyes—
coffee-cups, computer keys, handshakes, branches, and holy, sunlit leaves…
Touched thus by life, God-made and human-shaped,
we can wonder at creation,
contemplate components, count the costs and the casualties of things.
We might try to re-trace the stories
of the stuff that stuffs our days
back to each beginning, its very sacred Source.
The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God. -Thomas Merton
Whether wood or rock, paper, plastic, or person,
are we not, in some way responsible,
for whatever, whomsoever we touch?
To Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
might we also add this Lenten pair—
Reflect and Return gratitude to the Source of All, and all those in between?
So regularly may we re-Source our lives,
to be cleansed and healed of hurting and hoarding,
till graciously we release the good to us so freely given.
How will you follow the trails of blessing and burden that touch your life?