Green beans and mission: is there a connection? Yes! A recent event on a Sunday evening with my children is proof. It was a typical cold winter Sunday night in our house; the kids were going stir-crazy after a weekend inside, my husband was reading on-line newspapers from Chile and I was in the kitchen. I was trying to get dinner ready and the antagonistic sibling banter was penetrating my patience.
My instinct was to scream over them, but surprisingly what came out was, ”Come help Mommy snap the green beans!” Even more surprisingly, they dropped what they were doing and were at the table waiting for instructions within seconds.
I set them each up with a bowl and some beans. Then I demonstrated by taking the ends, snapping off the stems and tossing the beans in the bowl, stems for the compost. My eight year old son caught on right away, but my three year old daughter was less interested in snapping and more interested in waving the beans around like princess wands. But my son patiently reeled her in and taught her the rhythm. Snap, toss, snap, toss, snap, toss.
So there we were, snapping beans and . . . . talking . . . laughing . . . listening to one another! The details I can’t remember, who said what, but the encounter that lasted for about 15 minutes was blissful. We were connecting with each other, learning from one another, and my beans got snapped for dinner!
As the joy and gentleness of the moment drifted into my heart, I realized that mission is much like sitting around the table snapping green beans. First, we need the invitation to the table. We need the call. Then, once we hear the call, we must say ‘Yes’ and take our place. Finally, once we are at the table, we need to be attentive to those around us. What are the needs? Who needs help? Who needs to be listened to? How can we work, play, learn, grow together?
Columban missionaries and the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, through a number of opportunities – extends that invitation to you to come to the table. Whether it is an exposure trip to Peru, volunteering at the U.S.-Mexico Border, joining a local chapter of the Affiliates program, interning in the social justice advocacy office or considering a life-long commitment as a missionary priest, we believe that we are all called to the table as children of God. We are called in big and small ways every day to live the Gospel and share the table of life.
Each month we will share with you different ways you can join in Columban mission. We hope you come to the table and snap some green beans!
Amy Woolam Echeverria
Climate Change Update
With over 190 nations represented at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, people across the world anticipated the creation of a climate treaty to be the ultimate result. However, the Copenhagen Summit has passed, and while many see it as a failure since it did not accomplish any formal contracts, it has helped elevate the priority of climate change for the global community. After what was reported to have been an aggravating and inefficient two weeks, the conference was able to conclude with a three-page, non-binding accord that expresses goals for mitigation of emissions, funding for poor countries, international adaptation and clean technology. The conference stimulated countries, including the U.S., India and China to make public commitments to decrease emissions. Although no binding treaty was reached, it has pushed for the possibility of climate action for domestic legislation. The House passed a climate bill in June 2009, and there are currently two climate bills for the Senate to consider.
Climate legislation began in the Senate with John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who introduced a climate bill in September of 2009, which was passed out of committee but has since lost momentum. Senator Kerry moved on to work with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) on a tri-partisan climate and energy Senate bill. Intentionally announced at the onset of the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009, the Senators had hoped to set an example of action for the countries participating in the conference. The bill’s framework includes setting a price on carbon that would create demand for clean energy technologies and provide opportunity for economic growth and job creation. It will also endorse securing energy independence by developing new clean energy technologies and increasing supply of domestic sources.
Meanwhile, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) recently introduced an alternative bipartisan climate bill, Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act (CLEAR), that also puts a price on carbon, as well as a proposal to refund 75% of the pollution revenue the government collects to every U.S. resident, with the remaining 25% to be allocated separately every year. CLEAR would also protect the Clean Air Act and maintain the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce and regulate greenhouse gas emissions. We are hoping that one of these bills will see some action before the end of April 2010. Otherwise, election season will start and significantly diminish any chances of passing a climate and energy Senate bill in 2010.
Admittedly, both bills have their respective insufficiencies, such as emission reduction targets that are too low. Nevertheless, there are high hopes that these bills will provoke the Senate to take decisive action in passing a bill within this year. The Church views climate change as a moral issue, and wants to ensure that any climate bill protects the people, often the poor and vulnerable, both domestically and internationally, who contribute least to climate change but are likely to suffer its worst consequences, as well as ensuring the reduction of greenhouse gases. We invite you to engage in the improvement of climate change legislation not only as a concerned and active citizen but also in concern for God’s creation. Call your Senator to encourage him/her to vote on a climate bill for 2010. You can contact your Senator (www.senate.gov) by selecting your state from the drop down menu on the upper left hand corner of the website or by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking to be connected to your Senator’s office. Be sure to introduce yourself as a constituent, expressing your concerns about the urgent problem and your support for passing a climate bill this spring. Successfully enacting climate and energy legislation would mark a deliberate step towards a sustainable energy future for the country and ultimately the international community.
Another way you can take action against climate change is to participate on a personal level in the St. Francis Pledge created by the Catholic Climate Covenant (http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/). By submitting your name and e-mail address, you can make the promise as an individual, or encourage others to join you and make the commitment as a family, a parish, a school or an organization to pray, learn, assess, act, and advocate care for God’s creation and those who are poor, who will suffer the harshest impacts of global climate change.
We also invite you to view the Columban website www.columban.org where you can learn more about how climate change.
Kena Roxas (Climate Change Advocacy Volunteer)