We have heard for years that our over-use of plastics was killing ocean life, and it’s true. Recent estimates put the amount of plastic floating in the world’s oceans at more than 5.25 trillion pieces, weighing more than 268,000 metric tons. A lot of this plastic is big and when congregated creates giant islands of trash like “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. It covers an approximate area of 1.6 million square kilometers or twice the size of Texas.
All of this plastic in our oceans is really detrimental to sea life. Fish are ingesting this trash and then dying, unable to digest it. It can be unthinkable of how any life forms could survive the damage we are causing. But as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park:
Recent studies have found that itty bitty microbes are attaching and living on the microplastics throughout the ocean. These microplastics are no bigger than 5 millimeters across and come from many sources. These microbes that found a way to survive in this new and changing environment are most often found on two common plastics, polypropylene and polyethylene.
Scientists are very interested in why these microbes seem to congregate on plastic while other creatures run away or are harmed by it. The hard plastic gives a firm place for the microbe to grow, but it also gives them an all-day buffet. Microbes often eat nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous that are suspended in seawater. When those nutrients come in contact with the plastic, they get stopped while the water itself keeps on flowing, giving the microbes a nice plate of yummy nutrients. They have found that a single gram of plastic can provide more food for a microbial community than 1,000 liters of open seawater. Unfortunately, this plastic covered in nutrients can also attract other creatures that eat up the plastic, microbes and all. That little plastic ends up working all the way up the food chain.
Even though the nutrient-covered plastic sometimes gets eaten, in the environment as a whole, the microbes are surviving. The ability of these microbes to live and grow in large numbers far outweighs the times some get eaten for their yummy homes. These microbes have persisted and survived when other animals have not been able to. We as humans have thrown toxins and poisons at them, but they refuse to quit and continue to survive. They found what they needed, and they made it work.
This level of persistence and not giving up is admirable. In fact, all 3 of this coming Sunday’s readings are about persistence. First there is Moses who holds his hands to God to win a battle. (Exodus 17: 8-13) If he drops his hands they will lose the battle, so he persists and holds them up all day. The second reading tells us to be persistent in proclaiming the word of God. (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2) Then finally the gospel tells a parable of a widow who persistently asked a corrupt judge to treat her case fairly and eventually he gave in and gave her a fair trial. Jesus tells us that if even a corrupt judge listens to persistence, how much more will our Father in heaven be swayed by persistence? (Luke 18:1-8)
I am not the best at persistence. I know I’m guilty of praying for something once and then wondering why it never happened for me. If it really mattered to me, if I truly believed that God would listen to me, why don’t I ask more than once? All of us must be persistent in prayer, especially when it comes to things that truly are important to us. Ask. Ask again. Keep asking. You may get tired of asking, thinking you’ll just give up asking because it won’t work, but if Moses had given up and said, “Well I held my arms up long enough,” then they would’ve lost the war.
Take some time today and ask yourself what it is that is most important to you. What is it that you want to ask of the Lord? Once you’ve figured out what is most important, ask Him. Ask Him all day every day. Add it on to every prayer you pray. Don’t stop. God loves you and He is listening. Keep asking and our Lord will hear your prayer.