for the journey

For Earth Day 2018 and beyond, say no to plastic bags

I saw a lot of fantastic sights on a recent trip to Ireland. But it was only after I came home that I realized there was a seemingly common staple of life that I hadn't seen there.

This year's Earth Day theme is "End Plastic Pollution," and upon doing some research, I discovered that Ireland had passed a plastic bag tax in 2002. It was then I realized I hadn't seen any plastic bags in Ireland.

FOR THE JOURNEY | Where gladness and hunger meet

You may have heard this before: "The place to which God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

That line is from Frederick Buechner, an ordained Presbyterian minister, theologian and author.

Most of us, within the context of our busy lives, want to serve God, whether it's pursuing a whole new career or just finding a volunteer role. But sometimes we get bogged down in "what is God calling me to?" and we stand still.

Maybe Buechner's quote is a good one to take to prayer this year.

FOR THE JOURNEY | Are outward signs of faith offensive?

I am settling into my cramped seat in a small aircraft when I smell it: the nauseating odor of fried food in close quarters. I turn, ready to glare, when I see that the culprit, a middle-aged man, is bowed in prayer over his meal, hands folded, eyes closed.

All is forgiven. I am a pushover for religious witness. As a person of faith, I welcome the expressions of others on their faith journey, whether my own tradition or another. I like to see people seeking God.

FOR THE JOURNEY | Follow Pope Francis’ example of ‘Mercy Fridays’

The photos were all over Facebook.

They showed Pope Francis, clad in the typical hospital green scrubs and a surgical mask, visiting the newborn section of an Italian hospital. This included the intensive care unit in which five little ones struggled for survival due to early births or other complications.

Facebook users love stories about babies, dogs and cats. If you get all three in one story, users really eat it up. But if instead you bring in a smiling pope dressed in hospital scrubs holding a baby, that's a winner as well.

FOR THE JOURNEY | The need for witnesses like Edith Stein

One can't overstate how strange and perplexing this U.S. election season has been.

The call to fear and isolationism, the occasional drumbeat of nationalism approaching xenophobia depresses me. Have we heard the whispers of scapegoating of certain people — especially those of a different religion?

I found it so consoling that in the midst of the campaign season, a Sunday Gospel reading in July yielded the parable of the good Samaritan.

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