From Brenda MacDonald:

Picture this: City transit buses, weighed down with unexpected crowds of clientele, wind slowly through their routes with their overloaded capacities abuzz in a party like atmosphere of banter and laughter that amplifies at each stop as more and more passengers embark. These are the two thousand teachers on their way to the annual day of teachers' convention in Saskatoon, making a statement by their actions to show how just one day of leaving their cars at home can impact positively their mark on the environment, while demonstrating how teachers, leading children, are at the cusp of changing the public's attitude and resolve in taking responsibility for looking after the earth we share.

That was the picture in my head. Where it led to, in reality, was a destination several notches below the vision. Bus Riders of Saskatoon granted my Bus to Conference Movement $500 to pay for free busing for 250 teachers to ride the bus to the convention. The passes were distributed quietly at individual schools to anyone interested in taking them. On the day of convention, downtown parking was scarce, as the overload of teachers' cars filled the streets. Why did my Great Idea fail? I think I know. Although I invested a lot of time and energy in seeing this go forward and contacted some key people to enable it, it remained my idea, fuelled by my own earnestness. I was a teamless individual.

Over my lifetime, I have endeavoured to live responsibly, always keeping in mind my environmental footprint. I never really expected my feeble actions to make a big difference to the Earth but at least I knew my conscience was active and it helped me to live faithfully, if not especially effectively.

A couple of months ago, upon hearing Naomi Klein on CBC's Ideas, I found myself swept up in admiration and affirmation of her ardent, articulate appeal. I dashed to my computer to sign The Leap Manifesto (check it out, if you haven't already; you may be surprised by how closely many points contact you.)  In Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, she reiterates the urgency to act now. Surely governments are beginning to display some political will to turn things around? (Try Googling "environmental pacts" and you'll see what I mean.) But Klein laments the collapse of higher governmental influence to effect the changes that urgently need to be implemented if we are to harness the power that climate change is already exerting on our world. She concludes that it will be grassroots movements that will cause the greatest changes in our global policy making. 

Does that mean I have to call up my youthful idealism to strive to live responsibly? (You know the shtick: reduce, reuse recycle.) I believe it does. What I have learned since my youth is about my need to sign up with a team, a group of likeminded people that will challenge me to deeper commitment to live rightly and to help repair damage already done.

At Wildwood Mennonite in Saskatoon, a team has been forming. Since December, a group of adults has been studying Every Creature Singing, an excellent 12-session course put forth from Mennonite Creation Care Network. Here we find common ground to support our efforts that begin from wherever we as individuals are. (Maybe even climate change deniers? Surely we all agree that we love our earthly home and want to follow God's call to care for it?).

There are myriad ways to express our desires to do what is right for the privilege of being a small part of Creation. We are starting by formally affiliating with Mennonite Creation Care Network. While we have carried on our discussions, our pastor and other speakers have been challenging our thinking in the world of finances, which it turns out, is closely enmeshed with how we interact with our natural world. In response, some of us are submitting to a voluntary carbon tax, others to build our community by sharing goods, others to learn together about socially responsible investments. In the congregational audit we performed in our study group, we discovered that we need to formalize the good intentions we have, in order to include the whole congregation in our team, to raise our collective consciousness and to act upon that.

Much needs to be done in order to recover what we have mismanaged and to build hope for the future. And there are a lot of us to pitch in. Yes, our individual efforts do count. We each can practise the three R's, ride our bikes, eat locally, spend and save responsibly, answer Calls to Reconciliation, lobby our government reps--take initiative. When we combine these efforts, where we submit to more rigorous training and exertion, we become a Team of individuals.  Go, Team Creation Care!

Challenge I

The writer of the above hereby formally submits to the Lenten Practice of spurning buying anything plastic or packaged by plastic. Although plastics can be recycled, they have become increasingly ubiquitous, often in places where formerly they would not have been available. This practice will take some determination and will offer some sobering learning, it is anticipated.  

Challenge II

Please consider undertaking your own Green Lenten Practice, such as abstaining from using disposable cups, limiting your daily drive to x number of kilometres, lowering your thermostat…Share your undertaking with others. 


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