Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Celebrating Even if We Stumble to the Finish Line

By Mikaila Gawryn
Earth Ministry Outreach Associate

Congratulations!! We crossed the finish line!! Our Three Month 300 Mile Food Challenge was successfully completed yesterday!! I must say though, my part of the completion was not as successful as I had hoped.

Okay... to be honest I practically fell across the finish line. It was hard!! Eating only local food for three months was more challenging than I could have expected, but even the times that I messed up provided opportunities for learning.

Two years ago University of Washington Professor David Domke addressed members and friends of Earth Ministry at our annual Celebration of St. Francis. I was attending as a volunteer, and I remember standing outside the sanctuary where he was speaking, straightening up brochures and snacks for the reception. From in the lobby I heard him say something that I will never forget. Professor Domke said that in the environmental community all too often "we sacrifice the good on the alter of perfection".

Having spent the last three years in an environmental studies B.A. program I know exactly what he was talking about. In my program I felt like I was practically eating, sleeping and breathing environmental topics. Pollution, extinction and degradation were all around and it was easy to fall into legalistic patterns of control when trying to cope with the impending doom I was reading about.

"All too often we sacrifice the good on the alter of perfection."

- Professor David Domke

Not surprisingly, this legalism can be accompanied by a holier-than-thou attitude, and I know because I had it! I started to believe that if I did everything right I could actually avoid being a part of the degradation of our natural world. This belief is clearly contradicted by the teachings of our faith:

Romans 3:23 says, "There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God."

It is also contradicted by the realities of our world. By participating in the systems of contemporary society, we become part of the injustice they bring about.

Unfortunately, I think it is this legalistic and arrogant attitude which keeps many people from getting involved in environmental action. I consider myself a part of the environmental community and I still hate it when someone makes me feel guilty.

Perhaps the greatest contribution the Christian faith community can make to environmental work is the acknowledgment that we are a fallen people. We don't have our act together, we unavoidably participate in the unjust processes in our world that victimize our fellow human beings and God's creation.

Yet, as Professor Domke explained, the inability to be perfect does not mean we should cease striving to do good. Our Three Months 300 Miles food challenge was just that, a challenge. But it was a good experience for me. It taught me to use muscles that I haven't been aware of before. Like the muscle of intentional meal planning that is required when I try to only buy seasonal produce each week. And the scheduling habits necessary for only shopping when the farmers markets are actually open.

Even though our food challenge is over the Earth Ministry staff is still still working to support local organic food. This week we'll be heading out to help bring in the harvest with New Hope Baptist Church! We'll be participating in the Clean Greens Project with a farm located in Duvall Washington. New Hope Baptist church has been working hard all season to bring in the crops that they planted themselves in the spring. If you're interested, please join us and New Hope members for a day of working in the earth and bringing local food to local people who need it.

Clean Greens Harvest Party

Friday, October 3rd, 9AM
Meet at New Hope Baptist Church, 116 21st Ave Seattle WA 98122

or at the farm,
20121 W. Snoqualmie River Rd. NE, Duvall WA 98019
Water will be provided, but please bring food for your lunch.

I hope to see you there!


Anonymous said...

Hey Mikaila,

It's Eric. I'm glad to hear your 300-mile challenge is over! I can't believe it's already been three months... wow! But good job.

I hope all is going well. Peace.

Sarah Lauren said...

MIKAILA! ... hello my beautiful friend. i am SO PROUD of you - i remember when you started this challenge. can't wait to hear about it & all you're learning in the days after. xoxo, SLS