Month 3 started a couple of days ago, but I had a busy weekend: a friend came to visit and there was no time to blog. There was, however, time to enjoy being out and about in the great outdoors. I feel very lucky to live where I do. The Tees Valley might be known for chemical plants and the remains of heavy industry, but the RSPB centre at Saltholme is a little oasis for wildlife.
And then, of course, there’s the privilege of being on the doorstep of the North York Moors. It might have been a bit cold, but I loved watching the paragliders and taking some time to just breathe.
I didn’t make it to church, but I was definitely worshipping! And, in a way, it was a really fitting start for month 3 – because this month is all about taking a little time to think about how I respond to my responsibilities as a Christian and as a citizen of the world.
Fasting has different purposes – at least seven (strangely!) according to what I have read:
So far, my fasts have been chiefly about obedience and inquiry, I suppose. This month is also about obedience (just because I feel I am called to do this), but perhaps it’s also a kind of worship (because the Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it) and also a little bit about repentance.
I don’t think I am particularly profligate with the Earth’s resources. In fact, I already have some pretty good ‘green’ habits. But this isn’t a competition, and even if it was, I wouldn’t be winning! I am certainly far from perfect. There are some things that I just take for granted, resources I just use as if they were mine by right – and this month is about trying to do a bit better.
I’m taking 7 everyday resources, and for the next month I’m going to try to cut back on the waste.
- Petrol – I’ll walk when possible, instead of using the car, and I’ll avoid unnecessary journeys.
- Gas – I’m turning down the heating by one degree.
- Electric – I’m unplugging, switching off and using the microwave where possible.
- Water – I’m giving up baths for the month and using the shower instead.
- Food – I’m trying to eliminate food waste as much as possible.
- Packaging – I already recycle quite a bit, so my focus is on trying to cut down on packaging as much as I can.
- Time – I waste time through procrastination…and no doubt I will blog some more about that later!
Some of these just need me to make a conscious decision to change my behaviour: they aren’t difficult to achieve and they don’t really require any effort – although they might make me a little more uncomfortable until I get used to the difference. Others will be significantly more challenging. I can’t tell you how much I am going to miss my daily bath! Believe me when I say this is a big sacrifice!
But I am reminded of Gandhi’s advice: that we should ‘live simply so that others may simply live’. I don’t think Jesus would disagree. So, this month is also about educating myself a little more about how the resources I’m trying to stop wasting are used by the world at large. I’m thinking and praying particularly about water – that most basic of all resources – and all those who can’t even begin to think about taking it for granted.
Right now, even as I write this blog, Haiti is being battered by a massive hurricane. It’s already one of the most impoverished countries on the planet; it hasn’t got over the devastation caused by the earthquake a few years ago. And now those people are about to lose pretty much everything that makes daily life bearable. They won’t be worried about having to take a shower instead of a bath for a few weeks. They might be drowning in the streets, or wondering how to salvage their possessions after the storm has subsided. They have already had an outbreak of cholera, and aid agencies are expecting that the hurricane will cause a massive spike in cases because of the inevitable water pollution.
It puts it all in perspective. Anything I can do is trivial.
But prayer isn’t trivial. Faith, through actions, isn’t trivial.