Thursday, January 31, 2008

Deanna: Alternative Transportation & Letting Go

From Deanna Akre Matzen, Earth Ministry Operations Manager:

Lent has always been, for me, about setting aside the personal obstacles that separate me from God. I started observing the Lenten tradition of fasting or feasting when I was in high school. My first Lenten journey, I chose a feast - setting aside time every day to play my guitar and sing worship songs. It seemed easier at the time to add something to my life that would bring me closer to God than to remove something. In subsequent years, I began to think about the actions or addictions that came between me and God. In college, I gave up playing computer games - an easy way to fill my bored moments and to while away hours of my days – a much more successful practice than the time I tried to break the habit of swearing. This year, being presented with the challenge of giving something up that not only comes between me and God but is also harmful to the environment, my first thought was to give up one of my biggest environmental addictions, driving my car to work.

Day after day, I think, “Tomorrow I’ll ride my bike… Tomorrow I’ll ride the bus.” But tomorrows turn into next week and next week turns into next month and I’ve continued to choose the easy route. Every day I choose to go to bed late and get up late, jumping into my car 15 minutes before I need to be at work.

I live a mere 4 miles from work. This is a much better commute than most people in the Seattle area. So, this year for Lent, I pledge to not drive my car to work and to choose mass transit, biking, or walking instead. By forgoing my car for alternative forms of transportation, I hope to not only save carbon, but also to improve my physical health, and use the time spent commuting to draw close to God in prayer.

Before I embark on this journey, I feel I should elaborate on the reasons why I fail to not drive my car to work. I’ve already touched on the number one reason, sleeping in too late and needing to get to work quickly. Here are the other reasons:

I often fail to ride my bike to work because:

  • it’s too cold

  • it’s raining

  • I need to go somewhere, besides home, right after work

  • I need to drive somewhere during work hours
I often fail to take the bus to work because:

  • I have to leave 20 minutes earlier to walk a mile to the bus stop

  • It costs more than driving but takes more than twice as long
I love driving my car because:

  • Seat warmers

  • A great sound system

  • Fahrvergn├╝gen

  • Flexibility of time

  • Speed
Writing these reasons down, I realize that I can do better. I can overcome convenience and comfort for 40 days in an effort to relate to Christ’s struggle with temptation in the wilderness, to save up to 8.8 pounds of carbon per day, and to develop the habit of better transportation choices. My hope is that the habit of not taking my car will spread into other areas of my life beyond just commuting, that my life will be enriched by letting go of the addiction of driving, and that I will have a new sense of time in a busy society.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

How very exciting! I too am giving up driving my car to work for Lent. It's a bit different situation for me. I don't own a bike, so the Seattle bus system is my only option.

Riding the bus will be challenging on 2 levels: (1) it will take over an hour of bussing and transferring, rather than 20 minutes of driving and NPR, and (2) a bus pass will cost me more than the gas would.

But I think it will be worth it. It is the way I should be living out my Christian ethic.