Thought for the Month – May 2018

Giving it up for Lent!

Thoughts for May from Pat Zukowskyj

What did you give up for Lent? Can you remember? Was it chocolate? Alcohol? Crisps. Did it make a difference to your life, once Lent was over?

Like many people, I used to give up foodstuffs, only to begin eating them again at Easter. Then I’d give them up again the following Lent! But this year, three things stopped me going along the same well-worn path. David Attenborough highlighted the massive amounts of plastic in our oceans. Revd Angela wrote about her efforts to cut down plastics in her life, in the February Church Magazine. She reminded us that it is our Christian duty to look after the environment. And then the Women’s World Day of Prayer on 2nd March had as its theme “All God’s creation is very good”.

Being involved in this, during the preparations in February, I was struck anew by the words repeated throughout the service, that we should keep God’s earth as beautiful as it was given to us. The service challenged us all to commit to God to “change one small thing in our daily lives which will make a positive difference to Your world and protect the earth for future generations”.

So I decided that for Lent, I was going to go “cold turkey”, and give up plastic completely. I was going to buy nothing wrapped in plastic, for the whole of Lent. And those six weeks were a huge challenge! Fruit & veg were easy – I took a cloth bag to the market, and put everything in together. I took paper bags to the supermarket, and only bought loose stuff. And Greenhalgh’s in Blackrod started calling me the paper bag lady, when I bought cakes, loose rolls and bread, and asked them to put them in my paper bags. I did explain to all who would listen, that I had given up plastic for Lent! I realised that it could be done, but it would be a huge effort. But perhaps that’s the point of giving up something for Lent?

So….Soya milk in paper recyclable cartons, dairy milk in glass bottles. Eggs in cardboard containers. Cat food in recyclable tins, not pouches. Soft drinks in cans or bottles that could be recycled. Soap in paper wrappers. Shampoo bars not liquid. I even found a stall on the market selling loose unwrapped kitchen towel and toilet rolls! I tried making my own toothpaste, using baking soda. I made biscuits instead of buying them. My black bin contents dropped by 50%!

I did struggle with seed for the birds, but I found a supplier whose plastic bags could be recycled, though I had to take them to the tip at Wigan, as Bolton do not offer this. So I saved them up, and when I had to go over to Wigan, I dropped in at the tip!

Angela told us in the February magazine that the Anglican Church recognises five marks of Mission, number five being “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the earth”. Lent is long gone, and normally by now I would be eating chocolate again, or whatever I’d given up. But this year, Lent was different for me. I gave up, and am still giving up, plastic. And finding more ways to exclude it every day.

So this is my thought for May – to challenge YOU to commit to change one small thing in your daily life to make a difference – please ask yourself what could YOU do to safeguard the beauty of God’s creation? I’m happy to suggest ideas! How could WE turn the thoughts on our Lenten journey into something that will sustain God’s earth? If we all changed just one small thing, maybe the tide of plastic would turn? And we could hand on a clean Earth to our children and grandchildren, for them to enjoy, as we have enjoyed it.