Monday, February 19, 2007

ReLent: New Life Instead of Guilt

Upcoming: Ash Wednesday Worship, Feb. 21st, 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew's United Church in Arcola.

From our church bulletin:
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Its roots lie in the ancient Jewish festival of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Atonement means "at-one-ment." If we are to be at one with God, with creation, with each other, we must face honestly who we are, make our confession, and open ourselves to the supportive power of God and our faith community in the Lenten struggle for new life. So Ash Wednesday is a day of honest confession and of commitment to the Lenten journey.

In the service on Sunday, Anita reminded us of a Mission and Service fundraiser our congregation did during Lent a couple of years ago. We had a calendar of the days of Lent, and for each day, we would make a contribution as specified on the calendar. One day might specify counting the number of light bulbs in your home, and paying so many cents per light bulb. Another day might ask how many pairs of shoes in your closet, and so on.

Anita wondered if we might try that fundraiser again, or if there were other ideas.

Here's mine.

Instead of feeling guilty about our stuff and our energy use and so on, why not find out what we can do about it, and what would do the most good? We'd save money at the same time, and then we could put some of that money towards the M&S fund.

I tried the Ecological Footprint calculator, mostly so that I would know what to tell others to expect, but I myself was surprised at the results. Here in the cold, sparsely populated northern prairies, we tend to think that a large part of our footprint comes from heating and travel - things that are difficult to change much (without moving south). Surprise: according to the quiz, a large part of my footprint comes from food. This was not entirely news to me, but the magnitude was a shock. Of my total footprint of 5.3 hectares, food contributed 3.5 hectares. Shelter came out at only 0.7 hectares, and travel at 0.3. Goods and services made up the remaining 0.8 hectares of my footprint.

On with garden planning! Next year, grass-fed beef, or venison, and maybe some chickens! And for a more immediate impact, how about porridge or cold cereal made from local grains, instead of breakfast cereal shipped in from Ontario?

This year, instead of a time of guilty brooding on the darkness of this world, Lent could be about learning a better way.


Tim Hodgens said...

Hi Laura! I was at a "Footprinting 101" workshop a while back. The workshop leader recommended a book: Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel, if you are interested.

His punch lines:

1. The footprint of the "average" US citizen is around 24 acres - that's 24 acres from various places around the world in constant use to support one person. Dividing the planet's 28 billion productive acres by 6 billion gives the average earth citizen a footprint of 4.7 acres. (Remember that much of the earth's acreage is not productive in this framework.)

2. You can choose how best to lower your footprint in lots of large or small ways. Remember to make it fun, because if it isn't fun, it isn't sustainable!

3. The most radical things you can do to decrease your personal loading is to stay home and grow your own food.


arcolaura said...

Thanks Tim! I have Jim Merkel's earlier handbook, and I followed his news for a few years, but then I sort of stopped, right around the time that his book came out. I'll have to see if it's available through the library here.