The nineteenth day of Lent
Wednesday after 3 Lent
The skyrocketing price of gasoline in the U.S. two years ago forced many people to change their driving habits. Urban dwellers used mass transportation more often. Some started riding their bicycles to work. Others formed car pools for work, school, and other trips. Some people were forced to stop driving entirely. In rural areas, where distances are such that automobiles are a virtual necessity, people began to plan their trips more carefully, stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work rather than making a separate trip, incorporating several errands into one trip instead of hopping into the car whenever they needed something. The effect on gasoline consumption and, ultimately, on the price of gasoline was substantial. And then the price went down and gradually old habits resurfaced and people are once again driving as freely as ever.
For the Christian, there are two issues. One is a matter of stewardship of creation. It is not just that there is a finite amount of oil available on earth that must run out sooner or later. The bigger stewardship concern is the effect that our profligate use of oil has on the creation as a whole. The emissions from burning oil, as well as other combustible materials, are polluting and ultimately destroying the good earth that God has given us. Everyone shares responsibility for this and we can all make a difference. Reducing the number of trips we make in our cars is a first step: we will burn less oil, we will save money, we will begin to develop habits of conservation that will spill over into other aspects of our lives, and in all of this we will be better stewards of creation.
The second issue for the Christian is one of stewardship of time. By "giving up," i.e. reducing, the amount of time we spend in the car, we make time for other things. This is another opportunity to simplify our lives and to reorder our priorities--to give ourselves space: space for silence, space for rest, space for prayer and meditation, space for relationships, space to be and not just to be doing.
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