The Christian calendar distinguishes itself with its seasons of the year. The most publicized one is Advent; the second is Lent. Lent is a custom/ritual observed by the faithful that is a temporary surrendering of a pleasure for 40 days preceding the Easter celebration. It enhances our spiritual lives.
While in Roosevelt High School in St. Louis, I worked at lee’s Drug Store, where prescriptions were filled , medical advice given to customers who couldn’t afford a doctor, and sundry items such as toothpaste and tobacco were sold. Lee’s had an ice cream bar where we served dipped cones to our customers. It was my job to staff this bar. I still remember the sad evening when Pat, a girl friend who ordered ice cream days before Lent, announced she was giving up ice cream for Lent. That’s a long time for the teen-aged boy who had a crush on her. That was my introduction to Lent and heartbreak.
Now Lent is taking on a more significant meaning; it is recognized as a ritual accommodating spiritual growth and activating our spiritual resources. It is a spiritual enabler for recognizing, surfacing, and activating our inner spiritual resources. It is an ally in releasing our God-like inner nature.
Laila Thompson became creative and relevant in her observance of lent. Her thinking and commitment merits attention and emulation. Following her example propels us to spiritual enrichment as individuals and as a community. What did she do that was so outstanding?
For Lent, Laila usually gives up chocolate or other indulgent sweets. but after talking with her religious leader this year she decided to slim down with something different: her carbon footprint.
Her Lenten resolution concentrated on caring for God’s creation. For the 40 days before easter, she did without plastic bags, she conserved electricity and curtailed her driving. Such sacrifices merged with meditation on the suffering of Jesus, profiting both the community and the individual.
Lent or any of the Christian seasons, are excellent times to integrate stewardship of the earth into our daily lives. This form of stewardship is contagious; there are many small ways we can “take care of God’s creation.”
Spiritual organizations, whether liberal or conservative in theology, are flying the banner of environmental responsibility as characteristic of the faithful. Even evangelicals are announcing a similar message to “abuse of the environment is against God’s will.”
I was raised in the spiritual realm of the Church of the Nazarene, and became a teenager of great faith. In this evangelical denomination, the concentration was on being saved and sanctified or filled with the Holy Spirit, and living a Holy Life. Today, their message also includes environmental responsibility.
Dr. Loren Grisham, president of Southern Nazarene University, said:
“In Genesis 2:5, man is entrusted by God with the responsibility of ‘tending and keeping’ the earth. Today the renewed charge to protect the environment is one that Christians embrace in growing numbers.”
It is not too late for us to develop and to protect our environment. In our family, we are now recycling cans, plastic bottles, boxes and newspapers, thereby casting our vote for a cleaner environment. This personal commitment. I’ll confess, is easier for us since we live within minutes of a recycling center.
Because of my present dependency upon polluting materials, technological developments and require fossil fuels, “the simple task to be stewards of the earth is a greater challenge than could be foreseen a hundred years ago.
I am delighted that my alma mater is dedicating its resources to educating youth on stewardship of the earth. Our “ecological footprints” directly produce the kind of earth we leave as a legacy to our grandchildren.
The Vatican [Rome] encourages us to be more intentional in the stewardship of the earth. Bishop Gigotti in speaking of sins says “you offend God … by ruining the environment.” Protecting it is a component of our faith.