Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us
(St. Francis, Canticle of the Creatures, 9 )
Ladybug, our lovable Feline-in-Residence, has been meditating on Laudato Si and increasing her efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. As we prepare for Christmas, she wants to encourage all of her friends to explore more ways to reuse and recycle materials, especially boxes and paper. She wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2022!
Note: her comments have been transcribed and translated by one of her Poor Clare sisters.
As a good Franciscan feline, I am committed to reducing my carbon pawprint and helping to care for our Sister Mother Earth.
My sisters, too, are keen on reducing their consumption of earth’s precious resources. They recycle anything that can be recycled. As Poor Clares, they are also pretty good at reusing and repurposing items, an activity common to Poor Clares since the thirteenth century. When it comes to repurposing, though, I am teaching these Travelers Rest sisters a thing or two. They went far too long without a cat in community, and so they lost some of the knowledge that St. Clare and her sisters acquired from the felines in their midst.
Before I arrived, the sisters were recycling some items that could have been reused or repurposed by their resident feline. Not good! Repurposing uses less energy than recycling, so it is a much better “next step” for used or unneeded items. I learned this as a kitten.
Over the past two years, I have been working hard to educate the sisters. For example, I have taught the sisters that crumpled paper balls are the best toys ever. I’m particularly fond of balls made from the paper wrappers on toilet paper rolls. The sisters avoid plastic packaging and buy their toilet paper by the case — why they don’t just use litter boxes, I don’t know — so each roll comes individually wrapped in thin paper. The wrappers, like the rolls, are made of recycled paper and are the perfect size and texture for crumpling into balls. I just love them. And because these humans haven’t been trained to use a litter box, there is a seemingly endless supply of paper for crumpling into balls. I have even been able to teach my sisters the size of ball I prefer. Joy!
The monastery hallways are now artfully decorated – I will not say “littered” – with paper balls that sisters have made and then thrown for me.
Sometimes I chase the balls. Sometimes I don’t. But the sisters get exercise either way, and under my direction, they are usefully repurposing materials that they would otherwise recycle. Win-win.
It has taken me a lot longer to train the sisters to repurpose boxes for me. When I first arrived, they did some research and learned that cats often like boxes. They gave me boxes. Many boxes. Small boxes, large boxes. I ignored them all. The sisters then assumed, erroneously, that I did not like boxes; they stopped giving them to me and went back to recycling them.
They try the patience of even the most laid-back feline at times.
It wasn’t until Sr. Wylie arrived that they learned that I, like many cats, do indeed appreciate boxes. I just hadn’t wanted to use the boxes that they had given me earlier… because they were in the wrong places.
Location, location, location, sisters!
I’ll happily repurpose boxes of any size if they are placed facing a window. Surely the sisters could have figured that out earlier, if they’d really tried.
The lesson for all of you, my faithful readers, is not to give up too early; you’d be amazed at what you can reuse and repurpose if you give yourselves a little time to think creatively… and are open to suggestion from the wise creatures in your midst.