intensely trivial

Update on the environmental-stewardship workshop

Yesterday, I taught the environmental-stewardship workshop that’s had me pumped up for the last few weeks. And now, all kinds of people are asking me how it went. So I thought I’d write a very unprofound update about how it went.

Overall, it went well, I thought. There weren’t hordes of women in the class, nor was there only one. The nine of us who gathered to talk about this topic had plenty of stimulating discussion. I felt kind of frantic, actually, with too much to cover in such a short time. In fact, I was so motivated not to waste time that I forgot to stop for a bathroom break, and I probably had the most distended bladder of all of us by the end of the session — and of course I had to say something about it and then thought, “What a dork.”

My co-teacher and I taught the class with complete integrity; in fact, rarely have I been so convinced of the importance of what I was teaching. Here’s a one-sentence summary of the workshop: God created the earth, and since he cares about this planet with which he has entrusted us, we must be faithful stewards of it. Now, that’s a pretty simple concept. However, the ramifications of it are anything but simple. Environmental stewardship overlaps with ethics, economy, health, science, and a lot of other areas. It’s messy. There is a lot to learn, and there are all these polarized spins on the facts. And frankly, I think it was a little overwhelming to some women in the group.

I’m uneasy with the possibility of having overwhelmed people. I keep thinking, “If I were just a better teacher, I would have been able to boil it down to something more manageable.” I keep wishing I were a less passionate person. I worry that, as much as I consciously restrained myself for an hour and a half, it was me who was too much to handle.

After the workshop ended, I hiked to the top of a hill overlooking miles of the Flint Hills. I stewed at God, kicked myself, told him how worried I was that I’d botched the whole thing — until finally it got through to me that I needed to be still and know that he was God. Sitting on a chunk of limestone embedded in the spring soil, I looked around me at the gratuitously beautiful land and sky. I listened to the calls of birds I couldn’t identify. The insects rattling and whizzing around me didn’t notice me; they just did their thing. A shrub right in front of me was unfurling some brilliant-green young leaves. The wind blew the clouds across the sky into all kinds of shapes and formations. And there was no doubt in my mind that he is God, and that this land is his canvas, and that it delights him.

I can’t say that I became entirely peaceful in that half-hour of solitude under the blue sky. Peace is so elusive for me. I was really hyped up, still, about being among so many people and having taught that workshop — something that, I guess, was a big risk. When Dan and I finally said goodnight after 11 last night, I couldn’t sleep till long after 1 a.m. I was way too stimulated after such a day. Teaching about this has only piqued my curiosity further and raised more questions for me.

Can I take another risk and tell you something? I want to teach about it again.

And now I’m going to retract myself into my shell and let everything simmer down a little.


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  1. * Jenni says:

    I would have really liked to have heard what you had to say. I’m sure your passion came through, that is really what inspires and motivates people. Keep on educating, I have learned from you by stalking your blog:)
    -jenni (yohn) watson

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Erika says:

    Rachel, the session was wonderful! I talked to Nate all about it last night. It’s true, it can be an overwhelming topic, but God is so not fretting about our limited-ness. (Wasn’t that a great sentence?) He knows that we, including you, can only do what we can do. And He is okay with that, I think.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  3. * clbeyer says:

    Teach on, Rachel! You inspire me. Of course, don’t overdo it at your family’s expense, but feel free to at least keep spewing at ME, so I can be motivated to keep loving the earth that God loves.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  4. * carmen says:

    Oh, please know that I thoroughly enjoyed your session and was very engaged in what you two were sharing. I actually just wrapped up a lengthy processing time with Tony, and it was so good. Thank you for being passionate and for putting yourself out there.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  5. * Gail says:

    I echo what Erika and Carmen shared–I thought you did a great job, and I’ve had so many thoughts/questions since the session. I’ll have to write them down and talk w/ you about them sometime. I’m so clueless about this topic, and want to learn more.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago
  6. * manhattandoula says:

    Oh, you guys are all so encouraging! Thank you so much! I’m really excited that the session gave you some food for thought. It was such a good experience for me, too, to process some of it.

    Posted 9 years, 1 month ago

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