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Adopt Earth-Saving Practices This Lent

March 8, 2011

By Sister Kathleen E.

People sometimes talk about “aha” experiences. I don’t know if my first participation in the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium fits into that category, but it was close.

I knew as I viewed those DVD segments and shared with other participants at the Unity Church in Omaha that we were part of something real, true and significant. I knew I wanted to help spread what I recognized as a marvelous tool for raising awareness and inviting conversation about today’s world.That was October 2009, and I went for training as an AtD facilitator in December 2009. Since then I’ve helped facilitate AtD nearly 30 times, in places as widespread as Mercy Center, Dublin, Ireland, and Mercy Center, Burlingame, California. My conviction that it is a marvelous tool hasn’t waned, and I was encouraged by the agreement of its importance by the leaders of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Whether participants are very aware and concerned about climate change and social justice or not, the symposium provides a common experience and information base, and invites sharing of feelings and ideas. I’ve learned, though, the importance of strategies for follow-up. The optimum is that participants leave the symposium with the sense that something is going to be different in their lives because of AtD, and have decided on some concrete changes for themselves.

Has it changed my own way of living on the planet? I’m much less cavalier about making travel plans, knowing how hard that is on the environment. I eat even less meat than before, take shorter (and fewer) showers, and rarely use a clothes dryer. When I presented the symposium at Mercy Villa with the retired Sisters, I suggested we may have to “lower our standards.” Now my former philosophy teacher jokingly looks over my clothing for wrinkles, knowing I avoid ironing (not a hardship, I assure you.) I wonder what other participants have chosen to change. (Did the guy in Detroit who was thinking about real life change actually get rid of his car?)

For this Lenten season, we’ve developed a list of resources and actions you can refer to to deepen your commitment to care of Earth and/or take that first step in a change of lifestyle. These include things like housing, transportation and eating choices, as well as political involvement. Bill McKibben, leader of the 350.orgcampaign, suggests that massive civil disobedience will be needed to get the government to restrict corporate pollution. Are the AtD participants around the country that motivated?

This reflection is the first of what we hope will be regular blog postings among AtD participants, to share ideas, express concerns, and commiserate about the URGENCY of the environmental and social justice crisis that engulfs the planet. You can add comments at the end of this blog posting and those that follow in weeks to come to continue the conversation. We need one another. Maybe this blog will meet that need in some way.

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