Spiritual Lessons From a Roach

Earlier this year I was doing some work for school, and I noticed my cat playing with something on the floor. I smiled and thought, “how cute!” Then I saw what he was playing with, and a high pitch scream came shooting out of my mouth, and my furry friend ran inside his little cat house into hiding. To my horror, my cat had been playing with a big, black ROACH.  Horrified, I left the dead roach on my floor, grabbed the cat and my laptop, and ran into my office. ( As if that thing was going to come back from the dead and have a hostage takeover in my apartment). I messaged my brother and said,” my cat killed a roach, and it’s on my FLOOR in my apartment. What do I?” He replied, “Sammy ( he loves to call me that name), you live in the city! It’s dead. You will be okay.”

After a while, I gathered up enough courage to dispose of the unwelcome guest and cleaned my already clean apartment top to bottom. As I was cleaning, I kept thinking about how dirty and uncomfortable I felt by the sight of one bug. I felt dirty and exhausted, so I went to bed. The next day after work I headed out to buy sealable containers, baits for my cabinets, shelves- anything and everything to seal off and hide food and shoo away any future guests.

As I debugged my life, I discovered a few surprising things. First, because I have a cat, I became more aware of what items I keep in my house. I have absolutely no toxic cleaning chemicals and except the baits, I placed in my cabinets, I used no pesticides. Second, as roaches cling to things like cardboard and paper bags, I decided to reduce my Amazon orders and make a conscious choice to use reusable bags at the store. Third, as roaches also love clutter, I decided, I could simply learn to live with less. As I cleaned, I began to think of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and how he writes that our throwaway culture contributes to our excess waste perpetuated by greed. This exploitation of our natural resources, as Francis explains, taints the core of society. As we share a common home, our actions impact each other. How we treat the environment correlates to how we treat each other.

As Pope Francis is a Jesuit, he is also familiar with St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spiritual writings. Ignatius writes of detachment.  This freedom of detachment is experiencing freedom from anything that hinders us from growing closer to God. The more we become detached from the things of this world, the freer we become. As free people, we become more open and receptive to things of the Spirit. We become joyful, open, loving individuals who respond to all circumstances with the understanding that God is at work in our lives in all circumstances. We begin to see “God in all things.”

In a strange way that roach was a blessing in disguise. It reminded me that I am not bound to this world, but I am responsible for caring for it.  In caring for the Earth, I should be mindful of how my purchases impact the environment as well the individual who made the good I use. I also had a reminder that  I could and should live with less.  As Ignatian Spirituality teaches us that  nothing is out of the realm of spirituality, each day presents us with an opportunity for spiritual growth-  yes  even  through roaches.


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