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By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle

Near the beginning of Lent this year, I was reminded that the Lenten discipline I had chosen back in 2020 was to try to go zero waste for my breakfast.

At the time, I felt the best way to accomplish this was for me to learn to make granola and yogurt with ingredients that were sourced in reusable or, at least recyclable containers. Thus started a journey into lower waste.

The journey wasn’t perfect. I failed in my efforts to make yogurt and quickly went back to buying containers that could be recycled and reused. Fruit, which I include with the yogurt and granola, often comes in plastic bags or, at a minimum with stickers that aren’t compostable. Sourcing these from farmer’s markets can help, at least when the fruit is in season. I have been able to make granola buying many of the ingredients in jars from a local grocer and that effort continues today.

Lenten disciplines can and should be about more than one season. They should provide us with an opportunity to learn and grow. There should be something that we carry forward from this time into how we choose to live for the rest of the year and beyond. Through my journey into a zero-waste breakfast, I learned more about reducing waste in general and started buying soap, cleaner, hand cream, and other products in refillable containers. I recently encouraged a friend to do the same.

With total humility, I admit that I do not do zero waste perfectly. That doesn’t stop me from trying, and from being open to learn. Thus, a Lenten journey has become a life-long journey.

As Lent 2023 began, we found ourselves facing a variety of problematic and challenging issues: A winter storm caused chaos throughout Ontario leaving some without power for days. People were pausing to recognize the war in Ukraine had passed the one-year anniversary. The trauma in Syria and Turkey surfaced as earthquakes hit the region putting vulnerable people further at risk.

Inflation continues to increase such that living wage (the actual wage needed to have the barest basics of necessities) in Ontario is now an average of $19.72 while minimum wage, disability payments, and Ontario Works payments remain well below that threshold. The realities of bodies buried in unmarked graves on former residential school sites serves as a reminder that we are far from Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Stories from Black History Month offered further reminders of painful realities which cry out for change.

There is a lot happening that is hard, painful, and in need of redemption. It can be overwhelming. We may get stuck in a pattern of ‘thoughts and prayers’. Still, even thoughts and prayers are meant to be transformative.

The more we pray, the more we should find ourselves connected to those for whom we pray. Prayers invite us to include people in our families. What would we do for family? What steps might we take to support family members who are struggling, who need a sense of hope? How can that thought become the catalyst for action in Lent and beyond?

We are quickly approaching the end of this year’s Lenten journey. What have you done this season that has been transformative for you? How have your efforts addressed some part of the plethora of issues of which you are aware? What will you take from this journey into your life’s journey?

What you choose doesn’t have be perfect. We can always commit to try and to learn. God has ways to take what we do and who we are and transform these offering new life and new possibilities. This is the promise of the cross and resurrection.
Looking ahead to Holy Week and that journey into Jerusalem, that journey into recognizing how anger, distraction, greed, and sin get in the way of the relationship with humanity and God, may we remain humbly open for what God is doing in and through us.

May this journey be an opportunity to take our Lenten disciplines into the rest of the year in ways that are meaningful. May we be a sign that new life happens when we are open to God working in us in ways that are infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is a tri-chair of SEJH and a tri-chair of Justice League of Huron.