Monday, March 31, 2008

Kaitlin: Keeping at it

Beth blogged earlier about our Colleague and Congregational Sharing we held last Saturday. I also had the great honor of being part of this event. Since joining the staff of Earth Ministry, I’ve been following many of these congregations and their colleagues (congregational activists) who have made creation care a commitment. I was thrilled to be among so many of these talented, inspiring, and devoted colleagues.

Part of this event included colleague sharing of greening activities going on in their congregation. We were able to rejoice in each other’s accomplishments, empathize with disappointment, and offer each other advice and suggestions. One theme seemed to stand out throughout the congregational sharing: perseverance must overcome discouragement.

The obstacles can seem daunting, but I was reminded by a colleague from Richmond Beach UCC that, “You have to keep at it. Change takes time, but it’s our responsibility to make sure it happens.” Richmond Beach UCC just became one of our Greening Congregations after ten years of their colleague, “keeping at it.”

Another colleague shared a story of a man throwing starfish into the ocean. When asked why he would do this knowing that the beach had miles of starfish that might never be reached, he responded, "For this one it makes a difference." The colleague went on to tell of the beautiful gardens he helped plant at Georgetown Gospel Chapel. He explained how it is possible for each of us to make a difference and how in numbers our strength is overwhelmingly powerful. Just in seeing this crowded room, I could feel that undefeatable strength.

I walked home after the event still riding off of everyone’s enthusiasm and energy. The cherry blossoms were a little pinker than I remembered and the birds were a little louder.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maiko: Jesus is within People

From Maiko Minami, Earth Ministry Intern:

I spent this weekend in Spokane.

It was my first time to go there.
Snow snow snow!! I could not believe that it was in the end of March!
But, I could also see many beautiful trees covered with snow flakes.

The purpose to got there was actually not to see lots of snow but to attend a conference. It was Northwest Nikkei United Methodist Conference. My host mother and father are the second generation Japanese American. About two month ago, I asked them to bring me and my friend to the conference because we wanted to know Japanese American culture more. So, we could make it.

In the conference we found the existence of Japanese traditional culture, some of which were lost in Japan long time ago. We found such culture not only in material things but also within thier spirits. We were impressed that how much they love each other. I really felt that Jesus is still alive. Because of the existence of Jesus within thier hearts, they did not lose the most important thing as human beings 'loving one another' in thier culture.

Next week, I am going to share my testimony with my host family's church. Since the members of the church already knew the importance of loving one another, after I talk about how I became Christian for my testimony, I would like to add the importance of loving the creature by extending the range of love to the non-human beings.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beth: From Easter to Earth Month

From Beth Anderson, Earth Ministry Outreach Associate:

This year, the miracle of Easter leads us directly into Earth Month! As a resurrected people, we will go out into the world to both celebrate and protect the abundant life that has been renewed around us and within us.

Today Earth Ministry held an event for our Colleagues in member congregations. These are folks who are doing the real on-the-ground work to make houses of worship and communities of faith more environmentally-friendly and Creation-focused. As an Earth Ministry staff person, I felt honored to listen to the amazing stories of transformation and renewal that have taken place in congregations all over Western Washington. Signs of resurrection and new life are everywhere!

As we enter together into the excitement, celebration, and busyness of Earth Month, let us each take some time to center ourselves in our relationships with the Creator and Sustainer of all life:

Fire of Love…purify my heart.
Burning Bush…consume me.

Living Waters…wash over me.

Deep Well…draw me to you.
Spirit of Life…enliven me.

Breath of All Breath…breathe me forth.

Ground of All Being…root me in you.

Womb of All Life…birth me anew.

“The Earth Rosary” from Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology,
by Sarah McFarland Taylor

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jessie: He is Risen

From Jessie Dye, Earth Ministry Program & Outreach Director:

He is not here; He is risen!

With these words the angel--or was it the gardener?--greeted Mary of Magdala at the tomb of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. Unbelieving at first, then astonished, blissful, joyful to see Him again, Mary was the chosen follower to hear the Good News. Having stood by the cross in despair on Good Friday, she lived with the void in the tomb for three days, and learned of His rising first on Easter Sunday.

As Jesus went into the wilderness during forty days before Easter, we at Earth Ministry joined the wilderness experience by taking a little less and giving a little more during this time. I gave up cows, and my great learning was that I don’t need nearly the surfeit I think I need. I don’t need beef or cheese and while I love cream in my coffee, I certainly don’t need it. (Whether or not I need coffee is another question entirely).

Really, what do we all need? Besides the absolute physical necessities, I believe we need intimacy: intimacy with ourselves, intimacy with others, and intimacy with God and Creation. Lent was for me a time of paring away what I am attached to (as the Buddhists say) and claiming what really matters to me. What matters to me is meaningful work, peaceful solitude, the good companionship of the boys at the dinner table. Giving up cows called to my attention the many little joys I do have and the excesses distracting me from them. Lent brought me more intimacy and less saturated fat. For this I am grateful.

And like Mary Magdalene at the tomb I am grateful for the Good News, for hope after tragedy, joy after despair, renewal after death. It’s all there in this good story.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

LeeAnne: Every Moment’s Blessing

LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry Executive Director

Forty days of Lent. Nine hundred and sixty hours. Fifty-seven thousand, six hundred minutes. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that I was calm, centered, and completely grounded for each of those minutes, but I can say I did my best to count every moment’s blessing.

My Lenten practice was to slow down, spend more time outdoors in creation, and make room to hear God’s voice in my life. It was a struggle at times, but one that has made me more aware of my ongoing need to live in and enjoy the now, rather than always planning for and worrying about what’s next.

I’ve prayed more, walked more, and tried to love more, including loving myself. As I said, it’s been hard. But every mindful moment has indeed opened my heart to the possibilities of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation – all gifts from the One if we take the time to receive them.

O Eternal Now

I long to live in the present moment. I want to stop trying to control the hours so that new paths of inspiration are free to unfold within me. I want to remember that I have the potential to be a blessing in the lives of those with whom I live and work. Take my scattered thoughts, my fragmented moments. Breathe into them and draw them into your centered heart. Open my eyes that I may see the grace that waits for me in every moment. You are the Source of every moment’s blessing. Teach me to live awake.

~ from Seven Sacred Pauses, by Macrina Wiederkehr

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kaitlin: In this Together

Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator

After a few days of long showers, deviled eggs, milk chocolate, and more frequent flushing, the novelty has worn off. It’s not as good as I remember, and I really don’t miss it. I’ve discovered I can certainly live without these little extras.

This journey through Lent has taken me on a different route than the years previous. Besides being in a new state and attending a different church, Lent held a weight that I had never felt before. I’d given up things for Lent in the past, but I’d always seen it as a challenge. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d turned it into a game of how long can I survive without some item. Easter morning would come, and I’d act as if Lent had never happened.

I’ve learned much this Lent, some of which I’m still understanding. First and foremost, I now know that showers can indeed be short and still enjoyable. It seems a bit silly, but I guess I needed some intervention which came in the form of Lent. Easter morning my shower was a little longer, but I plan to keep the short shower routine. Today, I got a shower timer from Seattle Climate Action Now. Available at Neighborhood Service Centers, these little gadgets suction to the shower and measure 5 minutes.

Another important lesson for this Lent was realizing the need for community, especially a community in Christ. My whole Lutheran Volunteer Corps house decided to try to eat vegan for these 40 days. The only times we ever struggled was when we weren’t with one another such as going out with other friends. Between cooking vegan meals for each other or having Lenten reflections at the vegan Flying Apron Bakery, the support we found in each other was incredible. I also found community in the Earth Ministry offices. Through blogging and talking amongst ourselves here, I was able to get advice and find the support I needed that sustained me throughout.

Lent created a dialogue with my family, housemates, friends, coworkers, and church members that has been invaluable. I was reminded daily of my commitment to care for creation. I saw the connection between Christ’s suffering and the pain I create for others through my poor choices. And with my mistakes, I learned a little more about grace.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Deanna: Grabbing Hold of Freedom

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry Operations Manager

In reflecting on my Lenten journey of fasting from driving to work, I find that I am inspired to continue bussing or biking at least twice a week. I will still drive to work on occasion because my schedule may require it, but I know I will take alternative transportation far more often than I did a year ago.

There will be times when I fail to plan ahead and am forced to drive. For example, I have a doctor's appointment at the end of the day tomorrow and I had planned, without hesitation, to take the bus until I found out that we have a board meeting only 45 minutes after my appointment starts and I will barely make it on time by driving and to bus would make me very late and frustrated. But this unfortunate scheduling conflict reminds that these conflicts can be avoided with a little diligence. I look forward to next week when I will take the bus without thinking and enjoy the long walk to the bus stop.

One of the things I've enjoyed the most on my morning and evening walks to and from the bus stop is the interaction with nature. I've seen hummingbirds in the dead of winter, watched bulbs and buds begin to emerge, felt the sun on my back, and smelled the deep fragrance of daphnes. When I'm in my car, I miss all of those blessed gifts of creation.

I often feel like the apostle Paul who described at length his struggle to do the things he wanted to do and to not do the things he didn't want to do (Romans 7 and 8). For so long, I wanted to get out of my car and to bike or bus, but I just wasn't able to do it. The gift of Lent this year was to force myself to get over my excuses and to make it a habit. Or to spiritualize the experience, I was able to grab ahold of the freedom of Christ which allows us to overcome our sinful self and live a life of freedom. I am grateful for those 40 days of being in the wilderness with Jesus. I am better for it and the Earth is better for it to. I hope that you too had a blessed Lenten journey and that you will continue along with us on the journey to see all of creation healed and restored.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Maiko: "Happy Easter!"

From Maiko Minami, Earth Ministry, Intern

I bought another Fair Trade coffee bag yesterday. Though I thought I was going to quit this after Easter, avoiding non-Fair Trade coffee already became one of my habits, which I will keep doing even after Easter. During this Lenten season, I had many chances to tell people the reason why I drank only coffee, which was Fair Trade and organic. For example, whenever I went to coffee shop with friends, they saw me not drink coffee. They knew that I loved drinking coffee so much, so they started asking me why. Then, I told them the reason. “I am doing this for God. I am caring about my brothers and sisters around the world and the environment, which are all creatures of God.”

It is Easter today. Many people in church said to me “Happy Easter!” When I heard it, I really understood the meaning of happiness. Easter gives us the true happiness through Jesus’ being risen again. I just learned that rabbits and eggs are the symbols of new life, and candies freely given are of grace given by God.

Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to the Earth to save us and giving us a hope of our new lives which will last forever.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Jessie: Good Friday - The End of Hope

From Jessie Dye, Earth Ministry Program & Outreach Director

If we were apostles or the woman standing at the foot of the cross on the first Good Friday, watching our hopes and dreams die a humiliating death in the person of our beloved Jesus, how would we feel? If the forward reel of the movie stopped at 3:00 on that dark day, those of us who witnessed it would grieve and stare into a grim and hopeless future, with despair as our only way forward. It is lost, it is all lost.

There are days, during this Lenten season and at other times, when I feel that same desolation the apostles and the women must have felt at the foot of the cross on that terrible afternoon. My anguish is not about the death of the savior but the death of the planet. I heard yesterday on the news that some scientists predict that the polar ice cap may melt entirely for the first time this summer, if it is a warm year. Coal plants are going online around the world at a rate of one a week. My carbon footprint may be smaller now than on Ash Wednesday, but humanity's is much bigger. Only a few endangered species will survive the onslaught of poachers and climate change.

And it is not just the tragedy of our commons, air and water and species, which breaks my heart; it is the horrible lives that so many of our brothers and sisters are forced to endure. There are children in Africa whose whole lives are lived on mountains of trash, girls who are sold by their impoverished parents into sexual slavery as soon as they reach puberty, boys recruited as soldiers before they have learned to read, made to kill their village elders. There is something deep inside me that cannot rest while others among us are in such misery.

In the song of the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, sung in my church on this day, I grieve with the mother whose son is tortured and murdered for his teachings about peace .A helpless rage burns in me, as it must have in the followers of Jesus, as others in my species torture and plunder as if it were no matter. It is unspeakable to me that oil companies are even now competing for mineral rights under the North Pole in anticipation of melting ice. The plan is that as the climate heats, the oil men will extract reserves trapped now under thick arctic ice; there is profit to be made in the death throes of the earth!


For so many reasons, Good Friday is important to us in these terrifying times. We remember on this day that things are not as they seem. The movie does not end at 3:00 on Friday, but the following Sabbath and forty days after that. Spring returns, the trees leaf out, and tomb is seen to be empty. I understand fully but I don't always remember the lessons that Good Friday teaches. On this day we pray the Stations of the Cross, and at the end of that road give way to the despair the disciples must have felt. In the ritual of the prayers we lie down in darkness, without the tiniest inkling of the magnificent dawn ahead.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deanna: Do this in Remembrance of Me

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry Operations Manager

My Lenten journey of not driving my car to work ended in the same way it started, a commute of near epic proportions. Even though it took me almost an hour and a half to get home by bus and foot yesterday, at least I was in a far better mood when I got home compared to the end of my first day. To make a long story short, I missed my first bus and decided to try a different route that turned out to be not as smooth or as quick as I had hoped. But I spent the extra time reflecting on Holy Week knowing that it was my turn to blog on Maundy Thursday.

I thought about the Last Supper and how Jesus' took the bread, broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." But then I remembered what a professor of comparative religion told me once, that as Jesus died on the cross, he died not only for humans but for creation too.

While Romans 8:22-23 tells us that is true, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves...", there was more substance to that truth than I had ever realized. He said that as Christ is both fully human and divine and his human death the final sacrifice for our sins. Through Christ's physical body, creation was redeemed.

Think of it, every cell within our bodies came from what we once ate or what our mothers once ate. And every piece of food is created out of the nutrition of soil, water, and sun. So as Christ's physical body died and was resurrected, all of creation was redeemed along with humanity. So as we eat of the bread and drink of the cup in remembrance of Jesus' death and resurrection, we remember that just as Christ redeemed us, Christ redeemed creation.

It is so easy to lose hope for the restoration of our broken planet. But this Holy Week, let us remember every time we take communion that there is life for us and life for all creation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we all need to remember that on that same night the Jesus gave the disciples the sacrament of communion, the same night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus also washed the feet of the disciples as an act of servanthood. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you." Christ loved us and creation, therefore he died for our sins that we might have eternal life, today and forever. Let us love one another as Christ loved us, in service and in sacrifice.

A Blessed Holy Week to you all!
Carbon Saved: 125.3 lbs

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kaitlin: Reflections on Water

Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator

This weekend, I spent five days on a retreat with 16 other people from the Puget Sound who are in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps with me. One of the tenants of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps is intentional community. I live with three other women in a house in Seattle who all work at different nonprofits in the area. We work hard to foster this community by cooking together, doing weekly events with one another, and taking active parts in each other’s lives.

For introverts like myself, sometimes life in community can be a little tiring and time alone is hard to find. As part of this retreat, we took a step back from being the social beings we are and spent six hours in silence. After some time indoors reading and watching the rain come down over Lake Samish near Bellingham, I headed outside and down to the lake with my rain jacket. Soon the rain let up and I could sit on the dock taking pictures, journaling, and thinking.

A perfect reflection of the mountains rippled across the lake. The ducks scooted by as I became part of my surroundings. It was perfectly lovely. In watching this sparkling reflection, I couldn’t help but reflect on my journey through this Lent and what this all means for me Easter morning. I know I won't go back to my old ways. It was an easy transition for me. Maybe I can even carry it further? My house normally cooks vegetarian. Should I permanently become vegetarian knowing how much water, corn, and soil goes into the production? What other small changes haven’t I thought of that would help me live more lightly on the earth?

I realized what I was really asking myself was, “What kind of lifestyle do I want to live?” How do I live out my values on a daily basis without letting it bog me down? This year has been one of trying on different shoes trying to find the right fit. Being a careful water consumer definitely felt right. Watching the crystal clear water lap up against the dock allowed my mind to wonder what else might feel “right.”

I finally had the time to let myself think. It’s amazing what a little time by the lake can do to wash away the worries and look at the coming days with hope and excitement.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

LeeAnne: Wild Awake

by Mary Oliver

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such
splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree and didn’t move, maybe
the lake far away, where he once walked as on a blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be part of the story.

From LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry's Executive Director

The resting is over. My break from busyness this Lenten season has been at times challenging and life giving, but as we enter Jerusalem with Jesus this Holy Week, we are now asked to wait with Him, “wild awake”.

The journey to the cross is a difficult one, one that we began nearly forty days ago in the wilderness of our own separation from God. Yet we know that despite our brokenness, despite our frailties and our failures, despite it all, we know that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are forgiven.

May each of us, so utterly human like the disciples, be given the strength to lay down our humanity and be present to Jesus’ Passion and the suffering of all creation as we wait for this wondrous and undeserved gift.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beth: Not the End

From Beth Anderson, Earth Ministry Outreach Associate:

Yesterday, many of us celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in our Passion (Palm) Sunday services—a beginning of an end, of sorts. Or perhaps it is actually the beginning of a new beginning…

For me, Holy Week often brings a time of conflicted emotions. They are, on one hand, the worst and darkest of days, yet on the other hand, I feel a rising sense of excitement for the ultimate celebration of life.

This year I am torn over the coming end to my Lenten practices. Sure, the vegan/local produce diet has been a challenge, but there have also been great rewards—new favorite recipes & restaurants, an increased awareness about how far grapes & mangoes travel to reach my grocery store in the winter.

As I look ahead to Easter morning I wonder, what does the end of Lent really mean? Well, if the resurrection brings new life to all of creation, then I (and my eating practices) can never be the same!

While I plan to incorporate some eggs and dairy back into my diet, I am also committed to do so in a more creation-friendly manner. As much as possible, I will buy animal products from farmers who raise their chickens, cows, and goats in a humane and sustainable way—that may mean paying a bit more for my eggs and cheese, or simply going without when those options are not available.

I will also continue to pay attention to the environmental cost of my fruits and vegetables—I look forward to summer and the start of my local farmers market!

The bottom line is this—for Lent to be truly meaningful, we must look forward to the renewal and rebirth offered through the resurrection. The experience of struggle changes each of us, and we go into the next season with new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and new lives to celebrate!

Blessings to you during this Holy Week…

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jessie: Holy Week

From Jessie Dye, Earth Ministry Program & Outreach Director:

On this good Earth, cows take more water, corn, and soil per calorie than goats, sheep, chicken, pigs or fish. In this same world, Americans take more than our share of food, fuel, and resources. I look at my midsection, and know that despite my best intentions I am personally taking more than my share. It doesn’t feel right; I’m like an American cow, betraying my personal loyalty to faith and to the Earth by overconsumption.

The great Christian story of Holy Week, celebrating the time that Jesus traveled into Jerusalem on a donkey to be praised by the people, to the Passover Seder the night before he died, to his death on the cross, is all about bringing the story of death and resurrection to those who suffer. That every tormented animal, every mother who bears a child to see it die for want, every one of us who lives daily with understanding of our own mortality might see the light beyond the pain, beyond the grave.

I gave up cows for Lent to experiment with a personal way of reducing my carbon footprint, and as one way to take my share and no more. Hear is what I have learned: it is a true sacrifice to give up cream in my coffee, cheese is best left uneaten, and goat is a strange substitute for beef. I don’t need all the food products I had taken for granted, and I feel clearer, closer to the Source for making this Lenten journey. The austerity of the season is a blessing and a gift to ourselves, as well as to our sweet atmosphere. I’m deeply grateful for the discipline of Lent, and experience my discipleship more deeply for having thrown myself into it.

Holy Week and Passover are the spiritual center of the year. I go forward into this deep week of ritual and prayer humbly, and with a sense of having done my inner work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deanna: It's Only 15 Blocks...One Way

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry's Operations Manager

I decided to take my carlessness at work a step further this week. One of the reasons I usually drive to work is that I have errands to run and they're just easier if I can do them in my car on my way home. The two errands I run consistently every week are taking book orders to the post office and depositing checks at the bank. Both of these are located within 15 blocks of Earth Ministry's offices, making for a nice 30 block (1.5 mile) round trip walk. So this week I decided to walk my errands and throw in an extra trip to the copier.

This week we had about 10 book orders that needed to be mailed. That equates to about 20-30 pounds of books. If I had to carry those books in my arms, I never would have done it. Luckily, we have a bin on wheels with a handle. I filled up the bin, carried it down two flights of stairs and started wheeling on down the street. Fortunately for me, Ballard has a lots of sidewalks. By the time I got to the post office, I had peeled a couple layers and was glad to unload.

After the post office, I walked 2 blocks to the copier to pick up the next mailing. As I stood there watching the guy look for our order, I saw him go from small box to small box to small box to very large box and then stop. Arghhh... I know I made a quite audible and visual expression of distress because the guy asked, "How far away did you park?" I gestured to my rolling bin and said, "I work about 15 blocks from here." He replied, "And you walked?" "Yeah." So he kindly taped up the giant box (at least another 20-30 pounds) and put it in my bin.

I crossed the street and deposited checks at the bank then headed back to work. On the way back, I turned the corner at the library and saw an expanse of concrete lifting up and away from me. I glanced above the street and saw the spire of Trinity United Methodist church, the home of Earth Ministry. I thought that it didn't look too far away, but the walk was going to be uphill, all the way. When I got to the church, I left my load inside the front door. I couldn't bear to carry those 20-30 pounds up the stairs knowing that they needed to be walked down the next day and taken to the mail house. Since I don't have a car at work, I had to rely on Jessie or LeeAnne to drive the mailing to the mail house, so in retrospect, I could have left the mailing at the copier and let one of them pick it up on their way to the mail house. Oh well. I thought it would be smaller.

The whole trip took about an hour. Which is the real reason I usually tack these errands onto the beginning of my commute home. Walking takes time. Driving is quick. I could have completed it all in about 15 minutes or less using my car and there is plenty of work in the office to do with that other 45 minutes of time. But at least I got to see the light of day while at work. That's a rare treat!

Carbon Saved: 103.6 lbs

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kaitlin: Try Not to Bottle it Up

From Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator

I’m a horrible water drinker. Two liters of water is the recommended daily amount for most people. Coincidently, this is the same portion of water my friend who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya was allotted every day for all her daily needs, which first got me thinking about my water use this Lent. I try to make it my goal to drink that much water every day, but always fall short.

At work, I’m great at keeping my reusable water bottle with me, but as I run my errands around town or visit friends, I rarely keep it with me. On occasion, I end up buying water or drinking bottled water at my friend’s homes. Along with my other water saving techniques, I’ve made it my goal this Lent to ALWAYS carry my water with me and avoid bottled water.

For instance, I was over at a friend’s place last week. Like the good host he is, he offered me a bottle of water. Typically, I would have graciously accepted knowing that I need to drink more water and am grateful for the reminder. However, this time, I replied that I had some water in my bag that should be just fine and pulled out my steel water bottle.

He looked at me as if to say, “What? My water isn’t good enough for you anymore? You’d rather drink tap water?” I explained with something about how I’m trying to cut back on my water use for Lent and a 16 oz. plastic bottle requires as much water to manufacture as it does to fill. He shrugged, put the water back in the cupboard, and said, “Huh, well, that’s interesting.”

I saved 16 oz of water and hopefully got him thinking. Next, I just need to convince him that his bottled water tastes almost the same as tap water or at least filtered water. Maybe a little taste test is in order...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

LeeAnne: Go for the Goat - Crossover Blogging

From LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry's Executive Director

I found myself at the West Seattle Farmer’s market on Sunday, perusing the organic produce and food items sold by local farmers. I met a woman from Yelm who was selling sustainably raised goat meat, and since business was a bit sluggish that windy afternoon, we entered into a lengthy conversation. She told me about the farm that she and her husband run, where the goats are free range, well cared for, and humanely dispatched.

My husband and I last had goat when we were on a mission with our church, Fauntleroy United Church of Christ, in a small village in the mountains outside Oaxaca, Mexico. Goats take many fewer resources to raise than cows and are a protein staple in much of the developing world. And I can tell you that they are tasty, too!

In Jessie’s last post, the Wrestler and the Bushman, she introduced us to her “boys”, which includes Iggy, a member of the Bushman Tribe in Namibia. Since they aren’t eating cows at their house during Lent, Iggy had put in a request for goat, one of his native foods. But Jessie wondered, where does one find sustainably raised goat meat in Seattle? Apparently at the West Seattle Farmer’s Market!

Making a long story short, I made both my husband and (soon to be) Iggy very happy by buying a goat roast that we’ve divided up to share with Jessie and her boys. My Lenten practice of making more room for God in my life gave me the space to find a way to help one of my neighbors while keeping true to our shared values of sustainability. This experience made me feel closer to God (which was the intent of my Lenten journey), but I never realized it would manifest itself in this way.

The roast transfer happened this morning, so there will be goat on the menu at two households in Seattle tonight. Shh…don’t tell Iggy. It’s a surprise.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Beth: No Mangoes ‘Til Easter

It’s mango season! Well, I suppose mangoes never actually have a “season” in Seattle, but spring seems to be the time of year when the produce section has a pile of this scrumptious tropical fruit, and for a couple months their beautiful yellow-orange flesh finds its way into salads and smoothies and chutneys in many homes here in the Pacific Northwest.

But this year there will be no mangoes in my kitchen until Easter morning. While the price tag in my local grocery store makes them look fairly affordable, the environmental cost of transporting boxes and pallets full of the fruit all the way from Chile (the origin of the mangoes currently in stock at my local PCC) makes me think twice about purchasing them.

The mangoes arrive by plane, as do most perishable foods from the southern hemisphere, and in an article entitled “Global Warming & Food Choices” in this month’s issue of PCC’s Sound Consumer, the authors report: “Air freight has the highest carbon emissions of any form of transport. It can generate up to 177 times the emissions of shipping [by boat], according to the U.K. Soil Association, which has launched a major campaign against airfreighted food products.”

However, PCC continues to stock non-local, out-of-season produce because customers like me demand it! In response to a customer question about grapes, PCC Produce Merchandiser Joe Hardiman replies: “Many PCC shoppers demand grapes year-round. Non-organic grapes sourced from Chile are, in fact, one of our best-sellers in the winter.”

I know the impact of my food choices, yet it is difficult to exercise restraint when I see fresh, glowing produce on a gray day in February…God, help me to see the real cost to your Earth and to all its inhabitants.

Click here to see the full text of "Global Warming & Food Choices: A Guide to Low-carbon Eating."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Maiko: Musings under a Green Latte

From Maiko, Earth Ministry's Intern

I found an interesting coincidence..

Kanzo Uchimura was a Christian leader in Japan about 100 years ago. He is known as a founder of Mukyokai, one of movements among Japanese Christians. This movement focused more on the relationship between Jesus and each Christian in fellowships than the importance of existence of church. There is a teacher in the fellowship instead of a pastor. Through this movement, he had strongly been waiting for expanding of Christianity in Japan, which has not happened yet. He says in his book, “There are two J’s for me to love. One is Japan, another is Jesus.”

This line reminded me of JxJ. JxJ is a Japanese ministry group here in Seattle. This group was founded by Japanese Christian students from Japan studying at colleges or university in Seattle in 2006. There is an event once a month where anybody is welcome to eat Japanese food, sing worship songs in Japanese, and hear testimonies. This group had built the good relationships with Japanese people living in Seattle through the fellowship. On the other days, I asked one of the founders of JxJ about the reason of their naming with an expectation its relation to Kanzo Uchimura. She said, “JxJ stands for Jesus multiply Japan. We named it by believing that once God’s love reaches Japanese people, it will multiply among Japanese people through Japanese people anywhere in the world. Kanzo Uhimura? Who is he?”

I have seen the power of God’s love within both the movement started 100 years ago in Japan and the Japanese ministry group in Seattle. The members of JxJ have strong love over Japanese people because of their identity as Japanese. People usually notice the existence of their identity within themselves after they leave the places they used to be. When they are other places, they do not have real home and families. Kanzo Ucnimura also left Japan to study at Seminary in the United States. Then, he could see Japan objectively from outside. This helped him to find the importance of fellowship among people where they can focus on the relationship between Jesus and individual person.

These two know the importance of reaching Japanese people for God’s love by finding their identity through their experience they received in the United States. This was what I was thinking about while drinking a cup of green latte under the sunshine on Saturday.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Deanna: Little White Addictions

From Deanna Matzen, Earth Ministry's Operations Manager

Well, I'm happy to say that I've done well this week. I'm in the office 4 days instead of my usual 3 and have managed to take the bus all but once. The other day, I had to drive because I had the large and unwieldy Earth Ministry display in my car after taking it to a weekend conference.

But what I want to blog about is not how well I’m doing at taking the bus, but rather an experience I had walking to the bus yesterday morning.

Along the one mile walk to the bus stop, I pass by the house of some friends of ours. Yesterday morning, I happened to run into one of our friends outside while he was on his way to work. After greeting each other, he asked, "Out for a walk this morning?"

"No," I replied, "I'm on my way to the bus."

There was a brief pause and he gave me a curious look that says, 'you ride the bus', so I continued with, "I gave up driving my car to work for Lent."

"Oh-kay," he said, with a little pause and an upward inflection at the end that seemed to say, 'I don't get it - you are talking about Lent, right?'.

So I ventured more of an explanation, "I gave up my addiction to driving my car."

"I wouldn't exactly call that an addiction, in the classical sense," he replied dryly.

At this point, I tried to explain myself with one of my reasons for not driving my car and clearly failed to convince him. I don't even remember how the rest of the short conversation went. I was in a hurry to make the bus and he was in a hurry to get to work. While I didn't feel like I had gotten him to truly understand where I was coming from, as I walked on to the bus, I reflected on this conversation and decided that maybe I at least planted a seed.

Maybe he'll take some of his 30+ minute commute to think about why I think driving my car to work is an addiction. Maybe he'll really think hard about the fact that we all have these little white addictions that are so subtle, unlike alcohol or food, that it's easy to disregard them as barriers to a more abundant life with God. Society wants you to believe that consumerism, comfort, and convenience are not false gods. But I think if we're truly honest with ourselves we will see that choosing the easy path to comfort and convenience, whether by choosing driving a single occupancy vehicle or buying disposable stuff, etc, is a shortcut to feeling good and thereby not much different than choosing to drown our sorrows with conventional addictions. Boudelaire once said that "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist". So true, so true.

I believe that we're all looking for quick highs, which shortcut the hard work of suffering. "But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5. When we choose the easy way out, we not only cut ourselves off from growing into better people, but we participate in the earth-dishonoring consumption. I say, let's choose the harder, lesser walked path and suffer a little! In so doing, we may find simplicity, space, and joy as we distract ourselves less from communing with God and others, and find that suffering leads to hope!
Carbon Saved: 80.3 lbs

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kaitlin: Finally, Feeling the Routine

From Kaitlin Torgerson, Earth Ministry Outreach Coordinator

I think I finally made my water-saving techniques routine this past week. It’s taken me almost 30 days and for some reason, I thought it would have been quicker. It seemed like such an easy task that would swiftly become innate. Not the case I guess. However, I should have know better. Studies show it takes 21 days of a solid pattern to make something a habit. It only makes sense that in the past week, my water reduction feels natural, and I don’t have to continually remind myself to just turn the faucet off and leave the bleach behind.

I’ve found a routine in my mornings that has helped me come to work mentally prepared for the day. The morning crankiness that I commented on in previous posts has disappeared as I’ve discovered other ways to rid myself of grogginess besides the morning hot shower. On the mornings I get up a little earlier, I’m able to go for a walk or do Pilates. If I have a little less time, I read some of the paper or my daily devotions over a cup of tea. These little additions have been great alternatives that are more productive at mentally preparing me and are certainly less wasteful than my long showers.

This morning, things finally felt normal. I woke up with enough time to do Pilates, take a quick shower, and eat breakfast while reading the science section of the New York Times. It was a great way to start my morning off. No excess water needed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

LeeAnne: Some days are better than others

From LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry's Executive Director

I had the best of intentions to report on my “break from busyness” this week. I’ve been walking every morning like I intended, except for the last few days when Jessie and I were in New Haven, CT for a faith and environment conference at Yale University.

It was a fabulous conference, including many of the big names in eco-theology (Sallie McFauge, Roger Gottlieb, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim – and many more). Earth Ministry’s own Rev. Carla Pryne gave a fabulous talk, using the evolution of Earth Ministry as a metaphor for the growth of the religious environmental movement over the last 20 years. And Jessie and I participated in a wide variety of plenary and break out sessions, learning a lot and sharing the good work of Earth Ministry. All in all, it was a great experience.

I will say it’s a little hard to stay on track with walking when you’re in a conference 11 hours a day, and it’s hovering around 30 degrees outside…but Jessie and I did make it to the gym the first day we were there. Even though it wasn’t outside in creation, I think that counts for something!

We’re back now, and it was a watershed moment Monday when I decided (after getting home at 10pm the night before, equivalent to 1am Eastern Time) to take the day off. I have worked a fair number of the preceding weekends and have church obligations for the next three, so down time at home is at a premium right now. So I had a wonderful lazy day lounging about in my pajamas, reading a potboiler novel that Jessie had loaned me after she finished it on the 6 hour flight back from Newark. It was glorious, and most needed.

As they say though, no good deed goes unpunished. By taking the day off on Monday, I left a mountain of work for myself today. I still haven’t sorted through my email, I have 8 unanswered, urgent voicemail messages, I had three meetings today that I was marginally prepared for, and my to-do list after being gone almost a week is a mile long.

Case in point, it’s almost 7pm on Tuesday and I’ve just now realized that I need to write my blog entry for today. I’ll be lucky if I can reach one of the technically savvy EM staffers at home to post this for me tonight, otherwise it will have to wait until tomorrow, which will encroach on Kaitlin’s post for Wednesday. Hopefully she’ll forgive me!

All this is to say that I’m only human, and like for most everyone, some days are better than others. Monday was great, Tuesday not so much.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Beth: Vegan Celebrity??

Well, this is a new one—a Seattle U journalism student (and former Earth Ministry intern) asked me last week if I’d be willing to do an interview about my vegan Lent. Veronica is putting together a short video news-magazine piece on vegans in Seattle and wanted my input, so this afternoon I sat in front of a bright light and a camera and answered some insightful questions about my Lenten commitment.

Even though I am slightly camera-shy, this was a great opportunity to reflect on my experience and to better formulate my thoughts about what this short stint of veganism will mean for my post-Lent life.

My favorite part of the interview was the following exchange: “What will your first Easter meal look like?” Veronica asked. My immediate reply—“I’m pretty sure it’s going to include a cheesy egg dish and some buttery baked goods!”

I’ll let you know if Veronica’s vegan documentary comes to a video blog near you so you can tune in to see my on-camera debut…

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Maiko: Is Your Coffee Fair Trade?

From Maiko, Earth Ministry's Intern

“Is your coffee Fair Trade?” This is the first question I ask whenever I go to a coffee shop where I have never been before. By doing this, I have found out that the coffee stands at Seattle University have only Fair Trade coffee. It has been almost a month since I gave up non-Fair Trade coffee. I sometimes had to get off the bus in front of Tully’s Coffee on the way to school even though my bus did not arrive at the school yet. But, oh… I could have bought coffee at the stands as I always did before this Lenten Season started. I did not know when they started selling the Fair Trade coffee, so I want to ask them later.

Recently, Tully’s Coffee changed their coffee to Certified Organic and Fair Trade. It really helps me a lot. Moreover, they use 100% compostable cup. The traditional paper cups use a non-renewable, non-compostable, and petroleum-based lining to prevent cups from leaking. But, Tully’s cups use a corn-based lining which makes them renewable and compostable. Now I am at Tully’s Coffee on University Avenue and I can see an ecological theme in the atmosphere. For example, there are trash cans for recycling with two divisions, glass only and no glass. They put a water pitcher on the corner so that we can have it for free. They have some pictures of beautiful scenery such as beaches and mountains. I hope there will be more coffee shops like Tully’s Coffee around us so that I can drink coffee anywhere I go and think green!