Friday, 29 Mar 2002

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.

Today is one of the holiest days in the Christian Church, and once again it is a beautiful day in San Francisco. I spent a good part of yesterday at Grace Cathedral. During the noon service for the clergy in the Diocese to reaffirm their vows, Bishop Swing reminded us that these are troubled times, and that we work in the field of the intractable. Nothing could be truer in the case of environmental degradation and the present administration’s inability to see beyond the next election and the old way of doing things.

In reflecting on my own vows and the work I do helping people to connect their faith with their responsibility for the environment, I am humbled by the vastness of the task. We are called not just to believe in something, but to put our faith into action. This, of coarse is not always easy. Things don’t fall easily into place, but we cannot be passive. We have to do something; we have to live our faith. In an article that appeared in Grist, Bill McKibben asks the question, “What would Jesus drive?” We know the answer to that; I for one have a real problem with people who come to church regularly, call themselves good Christians, and take up two parking spaces with their SUVs. They justify this by saying they feel safer, but what about the overall good of the planet — or, heaven forbid, the safety of the person in the compact hybrid Prius if the two vehicles collide? That’s what I mean when I say there are things we are called to do that aren’t easy.

But I bet you are not reading this for a sermon — and anyway, I have to run to the post office with some reprints of pictures to send to a magazine and then stop by the office quickly before heading to the cathedral for our Good Friday service.

My son’s girlfriend has landed in the hospital in Michigan, and we have spent a good deal of time on the phone. She will be all right, but the calls started at nine last night and lasted until five this morning, so I am a bit tired. The incident is a reminder that we never know what is heading our way. Life is an amazing journey and in order to be fully human we must live our lives with our hearts open to risk and pain; if we don’t we will never experience what it means to truly love. If we can deepen our relationship with God and all that God means and gives to us, we will be more compassionate towards one another and in turn more compassionate in the treatment of our natural world; conservation of our precious natural resources, efficiency in the appliances we use, the cars we drive, and products we buy will become a natural extension of our faith. The religious community needs to lead on these issues.