Thursday, February 7, 2008

Deanna: Maybe I Need Some Cheese with my Whine

From Deanna Akre Matzen, Earth Ministry Operations Manager:

Well, my first day of not driving has come to an end and I think I have the hardest job this Lent! Let me set the stage for you. I took the longest and most indulgent Fat Tuesday a girl could ask for – a week long trip to Hawaii! But now I’m suffering serious Fat Tuesday hang over. I’m tired from flying back at midnight and fully acclimated to weather that was a solid 40 degrees warmer than Seattle. So here it is, let the whining begin…

Since I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night, I let myself sleep in a bit. After my shower, I checked the clock…8:55am – Oh No! I knew I had missed the bus that gets me to work on time, but I had no clue when the next one was. At this point, I'd normally hop in my car. No such option today, since I’ve given up driving for Lent. I jumped on the computer and saw that the next bus was 9:10…Not gonna happen since it takes me 20 minutes to walk to the bus. The next bus after that was 9:40, which would get me into work an hour late and gave me 20 minutes to get ready. So I ran around the house cutting corners where I could, grabbed my coat and ran out the door.

As I’m walking to the bus, I’m thinking, okay, what should I reflect on while I walk? My first thought was discipline. I need more of it, always have. If I was more disciplined, I wouldn’t have stayed up late watching the season premier of Lost that we recorded while we were on vacation. If I was disciplined, I would have gotten up early enough to make the right bus. I trudged on and began to notice that my head was achingly cold since I hadn’t fully dried my hair after my shower. I began to think of Christ’s suffering. Part of this Lenten journey is to identify with Christ’s suffering and his temptation in the wilderness. Yes, I was tempted to run back home and jump in my warm, comfortable, and quick car because I was suffering. But I trudged on. I got to the bus 5 minutes early; the bus was 5 minutes late. I got to work an hour late, but I saved 3.62 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) by walking and taking the bus.

Each mile I drive produces 1.1 pounds of carbon dioxide, a global warming pollutant. By walking 1 mile to the bus I saved 1.1 pounds. By taking the bus, I consumed only 0.26 pounds of carbon per mile instead of 1.1 for a total savings of 0.84 pounds of carbon per mile. For the duration of Lent, I plan to keep a tally of the total number of pounds of carbon I save. I recommend you do the same. Sightline provides a handy graph to help you calculate.

At the other end of the day, the hardest thing about taking the bus was watching the clock and knowing when to leave. Missing the bus on the way home creates a big pile of hassle. So yesterday, when we had a 3pm staff meeting that was running past 5:00, I started getting nervous. At 5:30, I checked the bus schedule. The next bus would arrive at my stop between 5:37 and 5:51pm. I better bust a move!

I started on the one task that needed to be finished before I left. Then I turned off my computer and started packing up, all the while feeling as though I wasn’t mentally ready to leave yet. At that moment, Jessie says, “I didn’t get that email you sent earlier.” So I turned my computer back on and resent it. Then I start asking LeeAnne about tasks for tomorrow, but realize I simply have to go. I get to the street and check my watch, 5:45pm!!! Oh no! I better run! As I’m 50 feet from the corner, the bus goes by. “Please God, let the bus stop!” I round the corner and, Praise God, someone’s getting on. I keep running – “please don’t leave, please don’t leave!” I put one foot in the door and the doors shut; I barely made it on.

I ride the bus for 15 minutes and get off on a dark, four-lane street that I have to cross at a non-intersection. I start walking. I pass a strange guy who creeps me out. I turn up my street and realize, as cars are passing a little too close for comfort, that I’m wearing brown pants and a green jacket in the dark. I begin to think about Christ’s suffering again as my feet ache and I worry for my safety. Another 3.62 pounds of carbon saved and a whole lot of discomfort experienced. Praise God I’m working from home on Thursday.

I got home at 6:15pm. It’s been a longer day than usual. Between my fatigue and epic journey, I just couldn’t bear to drive the nearly 9 miles to my church for Ash Wednesday services. So I walked to a church only 7-8 blocks from my house. Of course, by the time the service was over, there was a howling windstorm with pouring rain. Happy to be home for the night, I collapsed on the couch.

26.6 pounds of carbon saved.


Derek Eisel said...

Keep up the great work! I'm taking a less ambitious path this Lent. I'm fasting from "fast."

The inspiration to slow down for Lent came to me, ironically, while running. I've been thinking about what to give up for Lent and had the grandiose idea of a Carbon Neutral Lent, where I'd give up contributing to global warming. However, I've read enough, and tried enough to know that is a fast I can't keep. I've been working really hard on all fronts, and any more effort on fasting won't leave me any time for the other two big activities of Lent: almsgiving and prayer. So this year, the only thing I'm fasting from is "fast." I'm slowing it way down, and hoping that slowing down will put me in a place to appreciate and care for creation.

I woke up this morning thinking about my busy day - work downtown, followed by a brief bus ride home for dinner, then back for a Climate Change class at St. James. I needed to "fit" some exercise in so I got up in the cold dark, put on all of my high tech running gear and headed out my front door up the hill and toward the sea. The sun was rising behind me turning the sound brighter shades of gray until it reflected a brilliant silver. Overhead, an Osprey soared on thermals rising from the sea. On a morning like this, how could I be thinking about "giving up."

According to the Arch Bishop presiding over Ash Wednesday mass yesterday, Lent is a season of repentance. Repentance is not the same thing as having regret, just as feeling badly about something you did is not the same thing as saying sorry and actively making amends with the person you wronged. Being repentant is actively changing yourself, and the circumstances that permitted the wrong in the first place. This is the spirit that guides me - this spirit of active change.

I've been actively trying to change the circumstances that cause my continual strain on the planet in many ways: turning our yard into a place to grow food for us and wildlife, starting an eco group at church and at work, volunteering to restore habitat. I'll continue in all of those areas, but they take time - and a lot of that time spent indoors, separated from the natural by the unnatural. It is just as important that I'm taking the time to be outside in nature, and available for prayer. It may seem bizarre, but there are a lot of people passionately fighting for the environment while spending very little time in the environment.

That won't be me for the next forty days. I am slowing down. Fasting from "fast." This is my Lenten promise. God help me keep it.

Check this post out at my blog:

LeeAnne said...

Thanks for your comment, Derek! Deanna certainly has taken on a major challenge by not driving to work. But I can see that you and I are trying to find God in our lives in similar ways (see my previous post about a "Break from Busyness"). Slowing down and spending more time outside seems simple but it can be so hard to do given the bustle of our daily lives. I look forward to comparing thoughts with you throughout the next post will be on Tuesday the 12th. ~LeeAnne