" Let’s stop being consumed by consumption and instead be consumed by God, each other, and the beautiful world around us.
Life is filled with things, especially in today’s fast-paced, throwaway culture. With Amazon purchases a click of the mouse away and ads pushed at us from every direction, it’s no wonder we’ve moved from “Do I need this?” to “Treat yo’self.” It’s hard to imagine life any other way.

Pope Francis challenges us to live differently. He talks about the dangers of our throwaway culture in his 2015 “Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home.” He shares that, “Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption.”

Did you know that on a daily basis people in the U.S. are confronted with 7,000 advertisements? It’s no wonder we so easily get swept away in the things of this world; they are all around us. We can’t unlock our phone without being bombarded: “Buy these shoes and why not these socks as well?” or “Because you liked this shirt, you’ll love these shorts!”

But we don’t have to say yes to this culture, do we? Jesus shows us that his path is not of this world: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

So how do we do it? How do we end the cycle of consuming? For me, it’s about small daily actions that add up; trading a TV show for a post-dinner walk, planting tomatoes in the backyard and feeling the joy of growing food, shopping in bulk and at the local farmer’s market, riding my bike or taking public transit to work, and saying “yes” to staying after Mass to join a church gathering or event (e.g. Have you checked out your parish’s Laudato Si Circle?). Most importantly (and by far the most difficult), I try to make time and space to be quiet.

Together, we can be thoughtful with what, when, and how we consume. We can take daily steps that remove worldly distractions and free us to instead focus on what really matters in life. A life filled with relationships instead of shopping bags, community building instead of selfies, being in nature instead of on Netflix. We can do this. We can live simpler, more mindful lives. We can question today’s culture and live differently. Let’s stop being consumed by consumption and instead be consumed by God, each other, and the beautiful world around us.

Lehman is a member of Holy Redeemer Parish in North Portland and a co-leader of the parish's Laudato Si'/Care for Creation Circle. She loves exploring new places, hiking and biking, and any and all desserts.