Spirituality of the Plastic bag

a reflection on care for the environment

At the check-out in the local Supermarket the heavy duty reusable bags available are ambiguously advertised as “A bag for Life” indicating the obvious longevity of service they will provide and also the deeper meaning of the contribution to maintaining the environment that choosing the reusable option will bring.  Here in this simple slogan are two elements, one referring to the practical life task of shopping and the other to the possibility of making a choice that shows an attitude or spirit attuned to caring for the world we live in. 

Someone once defined spirituality is nothing more than faith lived.  Part of our faith journey must be living in harmony with the world in which we live.  Realizing God’s Kingdom which is our Christian Mission is therefore linked to the environment in which we live, for we cannot love our neighbour unless we love and care for the world in which both we and our neighbour live.  Our attitude to the environment is then, just as much part of our faith lived, by definition of our spirituality, as is our relationship to neighbour. This spirituality has been called many things – here, just to get your attention, “the spirituality of the reusable bag” but elsewhere “Eco-spirituality” or “Creation Spirituality.” 

Whatever it is called it points to a new awareness of an interconnection and interdependence between us and the world.  A connection that is not just physical but which also has a spiritual and faith dimension. Care for the environment is part of our Christian witness, of what we are called on to preach and teach through the example of our lives.  The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh wrote – “God is in the bits and pieces of every day, a kiss here a laugh again and sometimes tears.”   Perhaps this is something we should take more notice of in these times when we are more conscious of the need to conserve reuse and recycle.  The bits and pieces of our lives matter.  The stewardship of caring for creation is also a place to find God as are prayer, scripture, the sacraments and ministry to the faithful. 

The reusable bag and turning off the switch to save energy connect us, in a positive way, to those who live far away, to those who will come after us and to the God who made us.

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