Pastoral ponderings . . .

It’s almost springtime. This month, Lent begins:  the count down to Easter, and springtime.A beautiful time of year.So my thoughts turn to my lawn. So much grass to water, and grow, and mow.Broadleaf herbicide to put down.  Pre-emergent weed killer.And my sprinkler system. I wonder how it did this winter?I’ll be turning it on again, before long I’m sure. But water is getting harder to come by these days.It’s a drought that hasn’t been seen like this here in the southwest for 1200 years.That’s the year 822 A.D.Humans are remarkably resilient.The Anasazi people and their culture hung on in the Four Corners Region.But soon even they had to leave.Fresh water is life.Maybe the most precious of all the Earth’s resources.

Did you know that Utah uses the most water of any of the 50 states? And Utah has the cheapest water rates in the country? The Great Salt Lake is drying up.So is Lake Powell, and the Colorado River that feeds it.I wish that human water consumption patterns in Utah would change.I wish the legislature would do something.They got tours of the Great Salt Lake this session, and are starting to try some conservation measures.

But municipal, industrial, and agricultural habits aren’t changing.I wish I could change that.I wish I could convince Utah farmers and ranchers that spending thousands of dollars to irrigate hundreds of dollars of alfalfa isn’t sustainable.I wish the industrial parks on the West Side didn’t have seemingly acres of green grass just for decoration.

About 5 or 6 years ago, Red Butte Garden installed a Water-wise garden area specially designed for showing us what plants grow best here in the high desert.Native plants that tolerate extreme heat, freezing cold, and little water. They remind us that most of our landscaping here in Utah tries to imitate the Midwest.Lush green lawns are the gold standard.We’re taught that’s how we show pride of ownership: a lush, green, weedless, well-watered lawn.That’s what I learned, growing up in suburban Sacramento.It was a rite of passage when I first got to fire up the lawn mower myself.I loved turning the yard into a green carpet.

Old habits die hard.I wish our state could be forward-thinking enough to lead our neighboring states in water conservation. To me, conservation is just making sure to leave enough for the next in line.The generations to come.Leave enough for the others, coming behind.

So many things we’d like to change in the world today.Maybe a lot we’d like to change about ourselves?It was Jesus who’s appearance changed on the hilltop that day, not anyone else who came with him.Maybe there’s a lesson in that.We all can change.  We all can transform.  But we can only change ourselves.And if enough of us begins to change, society begins to change.

Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”Maybe change happens one person at a time.India achieved independence from Britain,as one person at a time said No to colonial rule.“Be the change you wish to see” Ghandi taught them.

I’m so inspired by what our congregation has been able to do thus far, about our water consumption on this corner of the City!We’ve been struggling for years to maintain a Midwest landscape in a high desert climate and our annual water bill has shown it.

Last summer, as the West started to burn and smoke filled the air, choking us some days, our council together with Rodger Cochran took the lead in turning some of our Midwest lawn to a more water-wise xeriscape.They showed us that we don’t have to wait for others to act.We don’t have to try and convince the legislature, or the Utah Water Boards that conserving water needs to happen now.We can be part of the solution ourselves.We as the body of Christ in this place, can change, transform, transfigure.

And you know, as I saw the results around here,  I’ve started asking myself why I’m so addicted to growing a Midwestern lawn in the High Desert!Can’t I think about doing what Tabor’s started doing?I can sure get worked up about the water wasting habits in Utah!What about my own?I can get outraged and resentful about the way the state operates.But I don’t have the power to change that. All I have is the power to change my own habits.                                                                              

The Serenity Prayer often comes to my mind at moments of great moral outrage:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

I can’t command the Powers That Be in Utah.But together with Kirstin, we can change our landscape at home.We can be the change we want to see around us.You’ve inspired me again Mount Tabor.To find more ways to live God’s love in the world.And this spring that’s looking like finding ways to transform our lawn at home to a more water-wise landscape.

Funny thing about the Transfiguration of Christ.Legend has it that it happened on a little hilltop called Mount Tabor.I think Tabor shines in many ways: with compassion for the least, in advocacy and generosity; with stewardship of creation, in solar panels and xeriscaping; and with hospitality that celebrates the beautiful diversity of human life and love.May the light of Christ continue to shine from here,inspiring us all to be the change we wish to see around us.  Pastor D