24 June 2007

does it matter enough to inconvenience my life?

this has been slightly modified from the version originally published on friday.

i was reminded recently of a conversation i had with a friend where i rather bluntly dismissed her claims that she was environmentally friendly. i have since realized that my dismissal was neither gracious nor effective in communicating, but it did make me aware of some criteria i have in evaluating whether something matters: does it matter enough to inconvenience my life?

now this criteria hardly means that things only matter if they do inconvenience me and/or give me limited to no pleasure. nor does it imply that we ought to live our life in a means that inconveniences all the time. but it does give me a standard to judge what really is important to me - and hopefully open my eyes to what i only claim is important.

caring for the environment is something that i believe that every Christian is called to do, as much as he or she is able. if i believe God created the earth (how God made that happen is irrelevant to the discussion), then i believe that it is good - and that God would want us to use and take care of his good gift as much as we are able. thus, being environmentally friendly is something that ought to matter in my life.

i recycle (as do my parents now - and they've spent years burning garbage so that was a pretty big step for them). i don't own a car. biking is my ideal mode of transportation. i use public transportation. i believe those saying that we've done damage to the ozone and thus try to get as little sun as possible (and have become okay with the pale-ness of my skin in summer). i use limited amounts of air-conditioning - partly to conserve energy and partly because i'm not entirely sure the "juice" in air-conditioning is really great for the environment. i turn out lights and turn off water. but i wonder how much of this i do as a means to make myself feel better (and because my generation is expected to be environmentally friendly), how much because most of the above means saving money, and how much because i actually do care about the environment. i know that one can't perfectly separate all of the motives but i still wonder.

see, i know that saving money is something that i'm willing to inconvenience myself on (it comes from years of trying to live on next-to-nothing). and using the monetary gifts that God has given me is also using well the gifts that God has given me. and i know that living in Amsterdam is hardly conducive to owning a car - and i don't like driving that much anyways. and that hitching a ride with my truck-driving father to visit my friends is a lot cheaper (and more convenient for my parents) than my borrowing one of their vehicles. and since i've never gone out of my way to buy the energy efficient light-bulbs (one obvious way to be environmentally friendly), i have to pause to ask myself how much my being environmentally friendly really matters to me. or whether wanting money for other things matters to me more.

seeing things that way kind of puts things in perspective. helping the environment is something that is important to me - and i do get excited when people do things that make a difference for the environment (like the design of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC) and i would love to see the community at Oudezijds 100 become more environmentally friendly (in a slightly bigger way than my annoying habit of turning off the light in the backroom). but as much as it is important to me, i ought to realize that my concern does not also have other motivations. nor that my concern to be environmentally friendly should also be balanced for my trying to be faithful with the money i have and appropriately enjoying the gifts God has given us.

but even after the perspective, it's helpful to ask the question of inconvenience. if something (not just the environment) really matters to me, then i ought to be willing to be inconvenienced sometimes because of it. and that includes not only changing patterns in my life, but also being willing to put in the energy and time to share and encourage that concern in a way that other people can hear and understand.

15 June 2007

pictures of tulips

a couple of months ago, i mentioned that i had gone to see the tulip fields - and that pictures would be forthcoming. now that i've stolen some pictures off of Dave's and Crystle's computer, i can post them for you.

The following are my favourite tulip pictures from our day of gallivanting through the tulip fields in the midst of the non-touristy countryside:

thanks to Dave and Crystle for the pictures :)

04 June 2007

sailing pictures

to illustrate that my life is not always dull - and because i have the assumption that people that like me do want to see pictures of me, here are a couple of pictures of me sailing with Dave and Crystle.

Crystle and me on their adopt-a-boat.

the view of Hamilton harbour through the sail.

and me at the helm. this would be impressive if it were not for the beautiful smoothness of the water behind the boat, which indicates that there was almost no wind. i wasn't doing much - which is why my hand is barely resting on the rudder (actually it's the tiller which is connected to the rudder, as Dave pointed out to me).

yet, in spite of the limited wind, it was still a lovely evening out on the harbour.

writing about me: the fine line between dull and fascinating

this being my blog, i tend to write about me: what's going on in my life and the things that i've been contemplating. now that i'm away from the community for a short while, it's fairly clear to me that my life is much less fascinating outside of the community. this is fairly logical since the number of people i interact with on a daily basis now averages to be about 5 other people/day (and that includes days when i've talked to 10 people) - so that's about a fifth of what it used to be. and it means that i have a lot less fascinating stories to write here about my life.

so, i could just write about how much i miss hagelslag for breakfast everyday. which is true. but hardly fascinating. although if you really like me, you might want to know that. of course, if you really like me, you'd probably already know what hagelslag is and that i ate it for breakfast (preferably on a whole wheat bun) daily for the last 8 months.

i've realized that lately i've tended more towards writing the kind of entries which would tend to be appreciated by the people who truly like me, but are hardly fascinating to someone who is not already interested in my sometimes dull life. and although i'm generally content with the dull moments in my life, writing too much about the dull-ness is hardly the best way to communicate to a larger range of people. more importantly, it isn't the best way to reflect the range of amazing experiences and people that i've been blessed with in my life. after all, i've lived in four different countries in the last 8 years. i use several languages daily. i read a phenomenal amount. i've been able to study what i want for more than a decade. i've been volunteering and working in missions/ministry for years. i have family and friends who love me and who have supported me for years. i have found my place in a Christian community in downtown Amsterdam.

i'm reminded of the phrase: "to whom much has been given much will be asked." i've been given opportunities and experiences that most people never get to have/do. and so i want to be faithful in what i've been given. the fact that people read my blog (thanks :)) means that i want to be faithful about what i write. i'm not entirely sure how to do that always (writing about life in community and sharing events in my life that ought to make others laugh (and humble me by making me look dumb) are obvious ways of being faithful - but talking about what i did in France is less clear - as is that i procrastinate more than i'd like). but i also know that writing on this blog is something i do because i like being able to share about my life, so i don't want to take myself overly seriously - or make blog writing into some overwhelming "thing/issue." i figure my seriousness over it is in some way my processing my disappointment in myself over not doing so well at writing my theses as i wanted to do. and having the time to realize that writing this blog has been a gift to me (if only to help me think through things and to let my family know how i'm doing) - and that i also very much want it to be a gift to others (and i'm trying to be realistic enough to admit that it can't always be a gift - and mediocre is sometimes okay).

and thanks again for listening :)