Cling Wrap: Enemy of our Human Nature


Yesterday an acquaintance narrated to me how he spent two hours on the weekend freeing his relative’s Christmas tree from the tenacious bonds of Saran Wrap.  Said relative, in one of those flashes of brilliance that usually blind us to our own stupidity, had the bright idea last January to mummify the fake, holiday emblem—lights, tinsel, candy canes, angel and all—entomb it in the back of the closet and then, voila, simply resurrect it entirely intacta and decorated the first Sunday of Advent.

It did not turn out to be quite the Lazarus success story as anticipated.  The cellophane bindings refused to come unbound. The multiple strings of lights and faux pearls tied themselves into terrible knots. The tree itself, so long in the grave, became dismembered in the liberation process. The erection of O Tannenbaum became the unhappy occasion for the dropping of many deadly f-bombs.

Once again, the intelligence of convenience had revealed its real IQ. Thankfully, some people have begun to catch on that this intelligence, formerly seated in the front row of the gifted class, needs a great deal of remedial instruction. All those high marks it had been earning were nothing more than the spoils of illicit cheating.

The post-modern plastics-mentality, in all its myriad forms and configurations, has flunked. In our effort to wrap everything, we’ve undone the biosphere.

Cling wrap is at the head of this class of inanity.  We use it with gleeful abandon.  I’ve watched—despite my timorous instinct to close my eyes at horror movies– well-meaning people take pre-washed salad out of its already excessive, plastic packaging and put it in a bowl, which then gets roofed in single-use kitchen wrap and put in the fridge to wait the 45 minutes until dinner time.

Likewise, a morsel of cheese so diminutive that even a mouse would not walk more than a meter to claim it, gets a good foot of cellophane to clothe it so that it not catch cold in the refrigerator. More often than not, the tiny fellow is found several moldy months later and promptly tossed, coat and all, into the trash.

Finally, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the sobbing of my heart the next time I have to witness the grotesque shrink-wrapping of luggage at an airport.

Where does all this see-through wonder-stuff end up? At best the landfill, at worst in the tortured gut of a sea-turtle. Next to none of it is ever recycled.  And from where does it hail? Oil. That precious sludge on which the planet is slipping towards a dramatic plunge off a climatic cliff.

Why, then, do we so readily use plastic wrap? If you arrive at a reasonable response to this query, please inform me.  I’ve banged my head against the question so long that I fear I’m severely concussed.

After the resurrection, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene, “Don’t cling to me”.  Strong words. Also exceptionally wise and necessary. She wanted to keep him as he was, all wrapped up and close at hand. But the risen Jesus knew much better. He knew that the comfort and convenience of having things sealed and waiting would detain the new life he had just begun.

The resurrection meant change, and change generally requires at least a little work. Mary, thankfully, was able to keep from wrapping and clinging. She put her own convenience second to the imperatives of new life.

Today, Jesus speaks strongly to us, insisting that we stop clinging, because our inordinate attachment to quick and easy is thoroughly messing up the world he came long ago to save. Does it kill us to spend the few seconds to put your leftovers or lunch in reusable containers rather than suffocate them under plastic film?

Does it completely confound our powers of creativity to imagine buying things without the transparent cocoon of possibly carcinogenic wrap?  Don’t cling to me. Don’t cling.  This is the word of the Lord. May our praise be measured by how actively we listen.

Greg Kennedy, SJ is assigned to the spiritual exercises ministry at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. Novalis will publish Greg's book - “Reupholstered Psalms” - on March 1, 2020.

  • M. Storozuk
    Posted at 01:36h, 19 January Reply

    A wonderful piece of writing. Thank you Fr. Greg.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 02:25h, 19 January Reply

    Thank you Greg!

  • Suzanne renaud
    Posted at 08:31h, 19 January Reply

    Inventive analogy of a modern convenience in relationship with biblical references. As we move forward more of these could assist individuals changing their behaviour.

  • Lois Greene
    Posted at 13:15h, 19 January Reply

    Thanks Father Greg. Creative and catching!

  • Jim Radde
    Posted at 14:43h, 19 January Reply

    Hi Greg,

    I love it. You have great sensitivity toward the earth and its ecology.
    You also write well. Keep it up.
    Jim Radde, SJ

  • Sr. Teresita Kambeitz
    Posted at 15:47h, 19 January Reply

    Many thanks for this enriching article! I’ll never look at cling-wrap the same way again, nor will I try to cling-wrap the Risen Lord or anyone else, for that matter! Thank you! Sincerely, Teresita

  • Paul Valeriote
    Posted at 21:19h, 19 January Reply

    Father Greg…it seems that whenever I see you that I do want to touch you and I Guess cling to you…I feel a desire to touch Jesus through you…never wanting to have you for my own…but wanting to share your love of God with everyone around me…

  • Dan
    Posted at 20:09h, 20 January Reply

    I’ve never met your Fr. Greg but look forward to one day.
    As a brother in Christ I look forward to seeing our beloved Saviour in your eyes .
    I loved that you took an every day item that we are so accustomed to “saran wrap” and used it as an analogy to teach us some important truths.

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