February 22, 2012

new sort of reflection...

Today is Ash Wednesday. For those who don't know the significance, of that, it's the start of celebration of Lent, which is 40 days (roughly) before Easter. It's a time when several churches (Catholics and others) either require or encourage the faithful to reflect and fast. The basic concept is to reflect on Christ and to draw closer to him. Many churches limit their diet (some take out meat, some just on Friday's, some fast all week with Sunday being the only non-fast day, it varies).

I've never celebrated Lent. I didn't grow up in a church that did it, and once I was older and making my own decision about spiritual practices, it just never attracted me. I would hear about people giving things up for Lent--soda, sugar, television--and for me, it didn't click. I'm sure there are things that I could do without, but most of them I either don't really notice much, or the lack of them doesn't focus me back on God.

But this morning, as I was making phone calls at work, I had a thought. I thought about how Jesus prayed, asking God to take away the cup of death. Jesus didn't want to suffer the cross, and yet, he did. And then I thought that if I were to participate in Lent, perhaps instead of giving something up, I should do something that might help identify with Christ, especially in the area of doing what I don't want to do.

So I'm going to give it a try.

In order for it to really help me identify with Christ, I knew whatever I picked would have to be something I'm able to do, but something I really don't want to do. The first thing that came to mind was daily exercise. I can do it, but I so hate it. For me, every moment spent exercising is a chore, a pain, and taking me away from the things in life that seem worthwhile.

I know, it's kinda silly, but God often uses the foolish things to confound the wise, so I'm not going to question His ability to use daily exercise to draw me closer to him. Especially if it's about suffering, because believe me, I'll be suffering. I'm sure there will be much calling out to God.

I'm starting tonight, as soon as I'm home. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, leave me a comment--have you ever given up something for Lent? How was the experience? Do you find such "celebrations" help or hinder your spiritual walk? Have you ever participated in any such celebration? Start talking!

February 8, 2012

hug a tree--why I think Christians should care about the enviroment...

Yep, long title. My college poetry teacher would be proud!

While I haven't blogged much this year (despite my desires and intent), it's only February, so I have lots of time to make up for a sluggish January. Let's start off with something that struck me (again) as I was driving to the grocery store last night.

I needed to stop at the store because I didn't have the ingredients for a whole meal--lots of odds and ends, but a real meal was lacking. So I'd made a list and figured I'd stop on the way home. Great plan.

Well, I pass two grocery stores on my direct route home. There are another two or three options if I want to drive a bit longer. But last night, in the almost snowy weather, I decided to go to Whole Foods. It's not the closest, it's not the cheapest, so why go there? Let me tell you.

I'm starting to appreciate better ingredients. Not just in that they often taste better, but that they are better for me. It's a slow process, and one that didn't start with health. It actually started more than a year ago with my desire to know more about where my food was coming from--and the desire to have my food grown locally.

Long explanation short, a lot of food grown for commercial use has been stripped of a lot of it's nutritional value. That, and shipping it across country (and in many cases, across the ocean) means cost for fuel. It also means that a lot of pollution in that transportation, more loss of nutrients due to travel time, and so on. Throw in the fact that a lot of animal food sources are treated poorly (to put is mildly), it's just not a happy picture.

So I've started shopping at Whole Foods for some items because they grow things more organically, they offer meat products from responsible farms that care for the animal. I like that about them. (I do, however, still turn my nose up at bananas grown in Peru, even though it's Peru, because it's just too far. I want something closer to home!)

And guess what. When I shop at Whole Foods (and other places), I try to remember to use one of the handful of reusable shopping bags I own. I have the kind that fold up pretty small and tuck into my purse. I try to carry several with me at all times.

And some Christians look at me (and those who are so much more gung ho than I am!) and shake their heads. I can see the accusations in their eyes: you are going native, next thing you'll be signing up with GreenPeace, protesting the killing of whales.

But it's not like that. Don't get me wrong, I think killing whales is a nasty thing to do, but I'm not going to chain myself to a boat to prove it. However, I am going to do what I can in my daily life to make sure I'm not trashing the planet. And I've got a pretty darn good reason: the Bible.

Remember back in the very first book, Genesis? Remember how God put Adam and Eve in the Garden? He put the Garden under their care. God told them to take care of the animals. God expected us to be responsible!

I'll give you a second to grasp that.

We have a God-given responsibility to take care of the earth and the animals on it.

That means we shouldn't tromp through this world as destroyers and usurpers. We should get upset when chickens and cows and lambs are kept in pens too small for them to even stand up in. We should use a reusable bag instead of asking for plastic every time.

I'm not saying we should all run out and hug a tree (not that it's a bad habit--trees are very calming and wonderful, and some of them smell like butterscotch!), but that we should take a moment to consider what impact we are having on the world, and how we might change that for the better.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not going to ever put animal rights before human rights--nor am I going to say that we should die to save a plant. But I am saying that God put this planet into our safe keeping, and well, we've done a doozie of a job so far. We can't fix it all, but we can manage the damage, so to speak.

So next time you are thinking about where to shop, consider shopping the "natural" grocery store--you might pay a tiny bit more, you might run into some weird health nuts, and you might have a bruise or two on your fruit, but you will also be taking care of this planet. And since we all call it home, it might be in our best interest to not trash it so quickly!

Agree? Disagree? Just feeling like saying something? That's what the comment button is for!