What a Cute, Colorful Bag

Because the pool at which I swim regularly is only a few minutes from my home, I am a minimalist in my “every day carry.” In warm enough weather, I wear my suit with a cover-up and flip flops, and take a towel, swim cap, goggles and a comb. I go home to shower and prepare for the day. When swimming became part of my regular routine, I carried those few items in a plastic single use grocery bag. It worked well, and cost nothing. And if the bag got holes, or the handles tore, I could easily replace it. The bag lived in my car, so that I didn’t risk forgetting it when setting out at 6:15 a.m. The only concern I had was that someone might think the bag was trash, and throw it away!
The food pantry at our congregation accumulated plastic bags at an alarming rate – too many to use, too many to store. Some of the craftier volunteers looked for ways to “recycle” plastic bags, and discovered they could be turned into useful items, such as slippers, backpacks, water bottle holders, and waterproof mats for homeless people sleeping outdoors. The work required cutting the bags into strips, which took time to smooth, fold and cut. After the strips were prepared, they had to be tied together to create “plarn” for the crafters. Only then were they ready to crochet the projects.
When I mentioned what I was using to carry my pool gear, one of the crafters said, “I’ll make a bag for you.” She wanted to know if the bag needed to be large enough to hold my towel (no), along with whatever else I carried. Then, in addition to all the steps above (smooth, fold, cut, tie, and crochet), she searched for the colors she wanted to use to create a pattern. That’s not as easy as one might think, because the majority of single use bags are tan and white – boring! At last all the pieces came together – and I received a pool bag that is one of a kind! Very few people have actually commented on its uniqueness, but quite a few have looked at that bag with . . . amazement, admiration, curiosity, or some unknown emotion. It’s not quite as startling as Joseph’s coat of many colors, but it comes close! That is the bag that now resides in my car, waiting for me each morning as I head for the pool.
My bag of multiple colors is probably not envied by many people. Some may wonder why I can’t find something better to carry. But to me, that bag represents love. Love for creation, that seeks ways to prevent plastic from cluttering landfills and affecting the health of the earth. Love for me, that turned tedious tasks into a gift that fulfills a need. Love for all the people who donated those bags rather than throwing them away, and who would (if they knew) be delighted that they helped create something of value. As long as I swim, I will carry that bag as a sign of my love – for creation, for the woman who created it, for the people who provided the materials. Considering what we know about the life of single-use plastic bags, this treasure will undoubtedly outlast me. And I will make sure that whoever inherits it knows it most definitely isn’t trash.
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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