A New Day Shines – The Tower, February 26 2010
As the priest pressed ashes upon my forehead this past Ash Wednesday, I once again began a journey. Over the past few years, I have wrestled each Lent as I attempt to practice true prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Trying a sampling of common actions and abstentions left me feeling restless, as if I was not making a genuine sacrifice. I sought something that would affect me daily, something that would powerfully challenge me to change my life so I am able to better love and serve others, and something that would carry on beyond Lent.
Last year, I began eating a meatless diet to decrease my ecological footprint. This year, I once again seek to alone for the numerous ecological sins I commit by pursuing an improved relationship with creation.
With the present crisis of severe environmental abuse, I urge everyone to add an ecological sacrifice to your Lenten offering. Here are a few simple, but worthwhile ideas:
Think about your food consumption. Perhaps you could eat meat at only two meals daily or add a meatless day besides Friday. Stop using disposables like take-out containers and Starbucks cups. Instead, bring Tupperware and a reusable mug to the Pryz, if you really need to eat on the go. The offering could even be as small as limiting the food wasted at each meal.
Think about changes you could make in your dorm or apartment. Turn off and unplug electronics not currently in use or, better yet, fast from electronics for a day. Wash laundry in cold water, make sure your loads are full, and buy a drying rack to lessen use of dryers. Try to limit your use of harmful cleaning products and invest in environmentally friendly dish soaps, laundry detergents, and cleaning products.
Think about wider changes. Limit purchases during Lent to just the essentials and utilize reusable bags when shopping. If you have a car, take public transit more often, even if it might be a little more inconvenient.
Print double-sided, being more cautious of how much you are actually printing. If you are feeling ambitious, join the environmental justice movement and advocate for implementing green policies from college life to Congress to the global community.
Most importantly, if you do nothing else, take some time to cherish creation each day. Pray for your efforts and those of the many who are revolutionizing their lives in pursuit of protecting the poor and preserving the world. Raise your conscience and remember it is the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed who suffer most from our egregious sins against creation.
So for this Lent, if you are so inclined, join me on a journey for environmental justice. Wander into the wilderness of fasting from our consumer society and giving alms and action to love what God has entrusted humanity to care for. Make small, yet radical changes in daily life and the impact on your spiritual life and the world will flourish.