How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
I’m not sure there’s been “a friend” who has changed my perspective on the world. Instead there have been a stream of conversations with friends that have gradually done this. One friend, for example, told me how energized he was with permaculture and that led me to taking a day-long workshop. There someone I met told me about the Master Composter-Recycler training program and pointed me toward all that I learned by doing that. That’s brought me to worm composting, shredding the leaves, and other more environmental choices.
At the permaculture workshop I attended, another acquaintance started a conversation with me in which we discussed community gardens and that, combined with the training around permaculture, led a group of us to begin Roots & Wings, the permaculture vegetable-labyrinth that is now being built on our church lawn and funded by the presbytery.
My new teaching assignment for the spring of 2011—Global Religions and the Environment—has also begun to engage me in conversations with friends that have changed my perspective. As I’ve preached more on these issues, friends and congregants have come up to me to share insights from the scriptures of various religions. Last Sunday, for example, after I preached on Isaiah 35’s vision for a new Advent way of living on the earth, I had a conversation with two friends interested in Hinduism about how parallel that vision is to one found in the Bhagavad Gita. That conversation was followed by one with someone else discussing how Isaiah 35 fit in with the Buddhist views that Jack Kornfield had been teaching her for the last five days.
Together, these two sets of conversations are broadening out my understanding of how to live daily life in a spiritual way that sees each choice and action as so much more interconnected than I used to. I’m hoping that I’ll find more and more interesting ways to connect the “green” options that our Roots & Wings project is offering the neighborhood with a “green” theology that can interweave my Christian beliefs with the insights of other spiritualities in a way that will really work for the 21st century world.
All of this is to say that I hope in 2011 I can continue to do what I did in 2010-- to stay open to small, local changes based on small casual conversations about passions with friends that seem to make long-term differences.