Commit2Respond: Final Reflection
Thursday, April 23, 2015
From March 22 - April 22, the UUMA Staff is joining with UUs across the country for Climate Justice Month, sponsored by Commit2Respond. Each week, one of our staff members will post their reflections on one of the suggested practices from the week. Intersted in joining us for Climate Justice Month? Click here for more information.
Our final reflection comes from UUMA Intern, Emily DeTar
At the end of our journey with Commit2Respond, on this beautiful Earth Day, I was left feeling like I had failed at my commitments. Earth justice can easily feel overwhelming, especially when caught in economic systems that monopolize and keep cheap the waste of carbon, plastic and oil. In an effort to respond to Commit2Respond and to the call of my seminary’s Ecology Caucus, I decided to help plant flower seeds for the rooftop garden at Union Theological Seminary. Commuting home, the pots had spilled, but I faithfully scooped the dirt back in and watered the seeds every day for a month.
I watered and waited, and watered and waited. By yesterday evening, I finally recognized that nothing was going to grow. I took back empty pots of dirt to school feeling like I had failed.
Everyone in my seminary spent today in a worship service helping to plant their beautiful seedlings. Feeling defeated, I belatedly handed over my barren pots of dirt to the one of the members of the ecology caucus. He said “This will be helpful for composting and helping the other plants grow. Remember in ecology, nothing is wasted – everything can be used.”
Nothing is wasted, even failure.
In those words, I remembered the grace and power of the Earth, the miracle of its cycles and the ways it uses and reuses everything. The decomposing trees are used for homes for fungus and forest animals. Forest fires help to clean the underbrush so new tress and ecosystems can grow. Trees take carbon dioxide and use it as they give us oxygen. The earth has such powerfully wonderful grace, that it wastes nothing but uses everything – even what we feel is failure.
How much better would we live if we lived as if nothing was wasted? If we stopped trying to shoot for one ultimate goal or grand prize, but saw every mistake as a lesson, every failure as a next step towards learning, and every disappointment as a new way to ground ourselves. What if we learned, as design thinking proposes, to fail faster and start learning what doesn’t work sooner to learn what does?
Or what if we all consumed as if nothing was wasted, and thought about every single part of our waste, food, and recycling? What if we ate as if nothing was wasted, and took seriously the interconnectedness of our nutrition into our wholeness?
What if we acted more like the Earth, and weren’t concerned about failure, but about using everything we can as we continue to blossom and grow. For me, this is the commitment I ultimately feel called to in the fight for Climate Justice:
I want to live as if nothing is wasted, not even my own failures.