One of the things that continually comes to mind when I contemplate stewardship of God's Creation is "the size of my footprint." How much does my way of living impact the Earth? What is my responsibility to lessen that impact for my descendants?
Avenger’s Age of Ultron:
After defeating Ultron, the Avengers come together at Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) new headquarters in Upstate NY somewhere. Tony, Captain America and Thor are debriefing, chatting and joking around as they walk. Thor must leave and go in search of the Infinity Stones (prelude to Infinity War) and learn what he can about them.
Once outside, he holds us his hammer calling the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge). The Bifrost picks him up and takes him way, leaving its intricate mark on the ground — a huge circle that destroys the lawn beneath it.
Tony Stark (jokingly) to Captain America: That man has no regard for lawn maintenance…. (walking away) I’m going to miss him though…
What size footprint do you leave?
The Bifrost leaves quite a huge footprint on the ground of where ever it picks Thor up. The ground underneath is ruined by the power of the Brifrost’s rainbow bridge. It creates a symbol that reminds me of a cross between Celtic cross and a crop circle.
This conversation between Tony Stark and Captain America made me laugh. Yet, it brought forth in my heart the question: what size footprint do I leave?
In the eco-justice circle of thought and dialogue, we hear that question often. How can you lessen your footprint? There is tremendous encouragement to lessen it as much as possible.
Those lists of how you can lessen your footprint sometimes feels overwhelming.
When I look I already do the easy things: recycle everything I can, have a chemical free house, buy organic and fair trade foods, use more ecological lightbulbs, etc.
I also already do many of the moderate tasks: I carry my own bags rarely using plastic bags, lessen the use of plastic in my life, walk to destinations that are close enough instead of driving, etc. These require me to be more conscious. They are not always habits. Many of them require more of my time and awareness.
Then there is the list that always feels like if I put my energy there it will take quite a bit of effort. It feels like the expert level of lessening my footprint. It is the list that requires commitment! as well as resources to accomplish: no-waste, alternative power like solar and wind, hybrid cars, eco-homes, etc.
I get the importance of lessening our footprints. As the human race has grown we have dominated the planet, maybe even overwhelmed it. In urban and suburban areas it can be challenging to find open space, let alone green space. Cities are allowing developers to create housing where there were once parks. Forests are being encroached upon. Wildlife habitats are disappearing as human require more and more space.
We do need to lessen our footprints in order to allow all the other beings on this planet to continue to have homes, to continue to thrive.
Taos, NM and lessening my footprint:
When I lived in Taos for nine months, I decided to see how much I could lessen my footprint. Since I was on sabbatical, working on my business, I decided that I had the time to see how close I could get to zero waste living.
I will totally admit it took a great deal of my attention and time. I had to make conscious choices about what I bought at the grocery store: could I recycle that container?
Styrofoam presented the greatest challenge and ask me to make changes in how I did things. Because most grocery stores sell meat in styrofoam, I thought I might have to become vegetarian again. However, I found that the local health food store had a butcher and I could buy my meat wrapped in paper (recyclable).
Styrofoam did require me to change my habits about eating out. I had to begin to bring with me my own “take home” containers when I went to restaurants, just in case there contains were styrofoam.
Buy local and bulk
I joined the local Taos Co-Op and learned all about bulk food buying. Investing in glass containers meant that I was making choices about how I spent my money. I had to sacrifice other areas so that I could afford the glass.
I began a compost pile on the Land I was staying on, caring for it regularly. I learned that, because I backed up to desert wilderness, the animals were quite happy to feast on that pile. That felt good! I was not wasting food, I was feeding the wildlife.
By the time I left, I had my trash down to one tiny bag a month. This experiment taught me how my choices affect this planet. How I chose to use my time and energy is one of the foundations of stewardship of creation. The greatest impact we have on our immediate environment is how we chose to use our time and resource to care for our property, land, water, etc.
Lessening my footprint required commitment. There were days when I was exhausted. In those moments that “I don’t care” feeling arose in my body and spirit. It was asking me: how committed am I to this experiment, to this lessen in stewardship? Each time it arose in me, I had to deepen and strengthen my level of commitment.
Currently, I am not able to be anywhere as close to zero-waste as I was in Taos. Because of this experience, my heart yearns for me to be in living situation where I can step back into the experiment again. Although this experience required focus, commitment, energy, shifting in how I do things, giving up habits, etc; it deepened my connection to Mother Earth! I desire to bring that disciple back into my life.
All that Spirit asks of us is that we become conscious of how we live on Mother Earth, on God’s creation. Spirit invites us to contemplate ways to be more aligned, more in partnership with the web-of-life so that we feel Her presence in all that we do.
What is the size of your footprint?
How can you lessen it, even a tiny bit?
What habits would you need to change?
How do you use your resources to protect and care for the environment?
We call on your mercy and your grace, O God, to carry us into a new communion with the created order. Pour your compassion and your forgiveness over us. Give us a vision of healing and togetherness for your entire world. We know that, with Christ as our helper, we can restore justice and balance and live in harmony with all that you have made.