The Green in the Stained Glass Window

There will always be naysayers. There will always be those people who will stand in the way of the good you are trying to do in your life, and in the lives of others.

There will always be the negative, the pessimistic, the bitter, the jaded, the disheartened, the hopeless…

There will always be that person that will remind you that what you are striving for is in fact impossible.

There will always be that person that will make you ask yourself:

What am I doing here?

Am I making a difference?

Am I working in vain?

During my year in New Orleans, my fight is to save the wetlands.

Is this an unrealistic goal?

One of the tasks in my job with CHART is to give a wetlands presentation to mission teams who come through for Hurricane Katrina relief. Once I was done with one of my presentations, someone decided to ask a “question”. This person then proceeded to let me know that everything that I had presented was all fine and good and very idealistic… but that the wetlands will disappear, and that there’s really nothing we can do about it. He then went into a 3 minute long explanation of why the wetlands are for sure going to disappear.

That was their “question”.

I have to be honest, this hit me very hard. It knocked the wind out of me. It instantly caused tears to well up in my eyes.. but I had to stay strong… after all, I was in the middle of a presentation on saving the wetlands, and I had just finished my section on how this wasn’t impossible.. and how this was a cause that God is calling us to.

This person basically told me my efforts are useless.. my year here will be in vain.

It was really hard to respond to this person, without either crying and leaving… getting angry in response… or just agreeing and giving up.

But I didn’t.. I told this person I understood where they were coming from because a lot of what they were saying was logical and true to a certain extent, and that this is indeed a complex situation that seems impossible…

but I have to do something. There are people who in the next 15 years will lose their homes if nothing changes. The land they have grown up knowing, along with their history, their culture.. their everything will be in a watery grave. There are people who have already faced this reality, and can now only visit their homelands in a boat.

Do these people not deserve a fighting chance? Do they not deserve hope?

There is a bigger picture here than just planting some wetland grass and trying to divert sediment to watered down lands…. There are systems and ideas in place that HAVE to change in order to make substantial progress in this fight.

Our society is driven by consumerism. We just want more and more and more, and we will go out of our way to get it. Even if it means putting ecosystems, wild life, and even other people in danger. Emphasis being on other.

I do understand what we (those fighting to save the wetlands) are standing up against.

We are standing against the government.

We are standing against the oil industry.

– There are 43,000 oil and gas wells and 64,000 miles of oil pipelines in Louisiana and the surrounding gulf alone.

– There are close to 3,000 reported oil spills a year in Louisiana and the surrounding gulf alone, causing erosion of land among other things.

– There is an 85 mile stretch of the Mississippi River called Cancer Alley where Petrochemical plants, in addition to polluting the air and water, are causing entire communities to suffer from various types of cancer.

We are standing against wealthy corporations.

We are standing against the pursuit of money. (the motivation for oil companies)

Hebrews 13:5-9 (Message)

Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you, ” we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?

We are standing against the pursuit of the American Dream.

We are standing against the mentality that plagues most of America.. and most of the developed world for that matter. This attitude that seeps into our subconscious, into you, into meThat we can never get enough.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 (Message)

A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.

These are huge establishments to stand up against, and yes.. in this day and age money is the speaking power in our world… so it does seem impossible, right?

Can we convince people to give up their dependence on oil? Can we convince people to live only on what they need.. and to live with the land, and not try to tame it?

Can we convince people that the pursuit of money is not everything?

1 Timothy 6:9-12 (Message)

But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down the path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. But you, Timothy, man of god: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life – a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

Mark 10:17-22 (Message)

As he went out in the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.” He said, “Teacher I have – from my youth – kept them all!” Jesus looked him hard in the eye – and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.” The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart.

He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

We are standing against an army of “rich men.  As I fight the “rich man” mentality that plagues my mind.

I’m not sure if we can convince people to change their mindset…. but I sure HOPE so.

I know that God calls us to hope for something more.. for heaven here on Earth… for peace and justice for all.

Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11 (Message)

The Spirit of God, the Master is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace – a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies – and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

God calls us to work towards and hope for the impossible.

God also calls us to follow our passions;  he gave me a passion for the wetlands for a reason, right?

I know that attempting to save the wetlands may make me seem crazy.. or radical.. or idealistic.. but isn’t that how I’m supposed to be?

Romans 12:2-12:16

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in the exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal , be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.

God gave each of us individual talents and passions to use to serve others, and to lift up His name.

I went to a renewal of non-violence service the other day, and this woman named Sister Helen Prejean gave a speech. She is widely recognized for her faith and advocacy on behalf of those on death row. She has been fighting most of her life to end the death penalty. She spoke with so much passion and conviction that it filled me with hope.

At the end of the presentation a man got up and said that largely because of Sister Prejean’s work, that they are working towards ending the death penalty in Louisiana in the next 5 years.

AMAZING! She has stood against incredible odds, and now she is on her way to see the fruit of God’s work through all of her labor. She reminded us that each of us has our own talents and our own gifts to give up as an offering, and the pieces we contribute come together much like a stained glass window. All of us are different sizes, different hues, different opacities. But we come together to create an amazing picture of Christ here on the Earth, and we work best when His light shines through us.

I chose to not be discouraged by what this person said to me concerning the wetlands. I may be a small piece. I may be oddly shaped. I may only have a little to contribute. I may have crazy ideas.. But that will not stop me from fighting to save the wetlands.

I want to be the green in the Stained Glass window.

– Lauren W.

[Follow Lauren’s blog at:  http://selahren.wordpress.com/]

Congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Gray, LA; Members can recall disappeared homes due to the receding coastline

The last remaining cypress swamp in Terrebonne Parish. "Terrebonne" is derived from the French for "good earth."

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