For those who practice (or even for those of us who don’t) you might snicker and laugh at my late-blooming arrival to this religious pastime. I ask you to bare with me, put on some good instrumental music and read on, because I think this is pretty cool.
There is something so productive about Lent -an honest action based quest for the Higher Power - I’ve been unable to resist the practice. I’ve come through many a winding tunnel on my spiritual quest; down back alleys I’ve wandered, to highest mountain peaks I’ve climbed. I am not Catholic, sometimes I wonder whether I could call myself a Christian, and it makes me giggle to think of myself as “Spiritual”. However, my spiritual quest has taken many twists and turns and indeed dropped me off on the road of Spirituality rather than Religion… whatever THAT means I’m really honestly not sure… But no matter where I journey, no matter where I stop off or what I discover, I forever find myself back here, “Seeking first…” Sometimes we must, irregardless of labels and culture preferences, step outside ourselves and look up.
I began this “seeking first” with thoughts of introducing something positive that would bring me closer to God (I have trouble with any authority that tells me what to do; this is a perfect example of my controlling version of compliance: “Okay I’ll do what you’re telling me to do but I’ll do it backwards…”) but that yielded no good ideas. I asked myself if I wanted to give up Facebook? Nah. TV? Too fun. For some reason, those didn’t seem important enough. Lent is a time to give up a thing that holds you back from the Divine; I’ve had friends who gave up boyfriends for crying out loud! I searched my heart, and this search effort bled over into the actual time line of Lent, yet still I sought. I may have missed the starting fire, but I held fast that I could yet make the finish line! And aha! I discovered an answer.
We mere humans, who think of ourselves more in-souled than the rest of Nature around us (at least we humans in this culture), were ironically created last. Well after the fish of the sea and fowl of flight, after the beasts of the field, even after the grass we walk upon, only then did we cross the mind of God. Did he have us in mind all along? Some would say so. Were we nothing more than a simple after thought? An aesthetic add on? Whichever way you look at it, we weren’t here first. Our entire history on this planet has been that of guest in an occupied territory. As I looked over those texts in the first chapters of the Bible, so elementary are their teachings most of us memorized them in grade school and promptly forgot to give them a second thought. But I paused. Often times it is that which is simplest that lends the most profound insights; what is our first Biblical commandment? To be stewards of this earth. To love it. To care for it. To love it so much we name it. In light of this I looked at my life, and I admit with shame, I saw very little love. And what love I saw, it was in want of some purposeful action.
And so I discussed it with my husband, and we decided that for Lent we would give up our carbon footprint. Well… we would as much as we could. There are substantial rocks blocking our path to peaceful coexistence with nature around us. The first being 1.) My husbands commute to work which ends over 20miles away. 2.) my work is a mere 8.9 miles away, and for sometime last fall I did ride my bike. However I pitifully complain of rain and hop in the car; but rest assured, bike enthusiasts, with the spring will come a milder morning, and an Ashley imbued with adventuring spirit. I’m a pansy, you say? Keep in mind, I’ve been out of practice.
So what does this “giving up our carbon footprint” really mean? A lot of things. It includes a mandatory bike ride if the destination is within 5 miles. It includes a commitment to buy ONLY local and organic foods. It includes a militant effort to save water and dump the saved water into the garden where it can seep into soil, evaporate and make clouds, and come down and bless our land again. And now THAT includes using biodegradable cleaning products, shampoos, dish soaps, body soaps, on and on. And that includes a quest to make those myself.
Does this sound crazy? It feels a little crazy, I’ll give you that. But to be honest, it isn’t that much different than what we were already doing. Only a few locations changed. For example, instead of purchasing our produce at Whole Foods, we bike to the nearest farmers market. We might bike a little longer, and might eat a little differently, but we’re doing it all more consciously, and I do believe that’s the point.
Since we’re on the subject of Lent, perhaps a confession is now in order; there have been more than a few times that I’ve wavered. Driving my car past two stoplights because I was “too tired” to bike to school. Midnight hopping at Winco because Whole Foods was closed and I forgot something at the Farmers Market (or, been too lazy to GO to the Farmers Market in the first place…). But, if I’ve learned anything from Mother Nature, its that everything is a process. No good change is attained over night, and any good change requires work to be sustained. Along the way, especially at my pitfalls, I’m learning how to plan, how to keep myself motivated, and more importantly, how to let things go. Sometimes when you’re sick and its pouring rain and its 50degrees outside, you shouldn’t ride your bike. To summarize, I’m only human. I’m weak. I cave in sometimes. But I’ve learned to accept my humanity; and I think that *He* does too.
So this is my Lent announcement! Better late than never! I will continue to keep you posted, share tips, accept your tips, and post a few pictures along the way. Wish us luck!