With the high heat of mid-summer, it is easy to lose our motivation to get outside and enjoy God's bounty. It can be even harder to continue the work of protecting it. I find it inspiring, though, to see how God has provided for each minute of the season. As my coneflowers start to brown, my black-eyed susans take over. While raspberries are long gone, blackberries are starting their peak. Soon, Fall gardens will be planted to sustain us through the dark Winter months. God does provide. With all the recent bleak news regarding climate change, I want to provide you with some inspiration. Sometimes we forget that there are a whole lot of folks doing good work and making real changes in their communities.
Erbab and Aamna are active members of the Islamic Foundation of Geater St. Louis and have started an environmental initiative at their mosque. I had the great fortune of presenting there a few months ago and am very impressed with their dedication and enthusiasim in making their mosque "greener". They undertook a special project for this past Ramadan. The following is Aamna's description:
"We were inspired to undertake this project when we noticed how many plastic water bottles were going to waste during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Well-meaning individuals would bring huge cases of plastic water bottles to offer to the couple thousand--rather parched--congregants of the prayers that take place every night in Ramadan. Most of the bottles ended up in the trash and many of them would not even be half empty. After visiting the Shedd Aquarium last year, we were inspired by the "Washed Ashore" art pieces made from trash salvaged from the ocean. Our display was up for the last 5 nights of Ramadan, and we received some mixed reactions from community members. Some people couldn't believe that these bottles were collected from just the one mosque over the span of 20 days. We heard of a family who, after seeing the display, went out and bought reusable stainless steel bottles. A few individuals tried to make the argument that you just can't beat the convenience of bottled water--plus, who can remember to take a reusable one every time they leave the house? We tried to tell those folks that it's just a matter of building a habit, like putting on your shoes before you leave the house! On the last night of Ramadan, the chairman of the mosque's board announced that for the following Ramadan, plastic water bottles would be banned from the mosque! After putting so much work into something we care about so deeply, it was so validating and gratifying to hear that announcement! (Some tears may or may not have been shed.) Sometimes the hard work of a few individuals can bring about serious change!"
I appreciate that Aamna describes that there was some initial resistance to the idea. That happens and can be discouraging. Don't let it stop you, though, from doing what you know is right for God's creation. Who knows what minds might be changed. Thank you for sharing Aamna and Erbab!