Spirit Alive: Saving the World One Paper Towel at a Time


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and beyond.
July 11, 2017

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

Little Things Can Add Up

This week world renowned physicist Steven Hawking said that the United States decision to quit the Paris Climate Agreement "will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children." As a result, he said we may soon reach a "tipping point" on this matter that will cause irreparable harm to our world.
In the aftermath of the United States pullout from the Paris Climate Agreement on Global Warming,one might wonder: What can I do to make a difference in the wake of this decision? How can I address the environmental crisis of our times? 
Well...I'm not sure that any of us can change the course of history on this matter by ourselves. After all we're just individuals, not great or powerful nations...Yet many cities and states across the country are now trying to respond to this unfortunate decision in creative, local ways. But what can I do?
Several years ago, I watched a short Ted Talk done by Joe Smith from Oregon that encouraged me to begin doing my small part to care for the earth whenever I wash my hands. It's not a dramatic act, but if enough of us did it, we could make a small, but important, difference. On the scale of things, it doesn't seem like it would matter, and yet if all of us did it...well, it would add up. In fact, ever since I watched this video of Joe, I have practiced a different daily discipline when it comes to washing and drying my hands. And I even turned it into a spiritual practice by offering a brief prayer whenever I do it.

Take a look at what Joe Smith said in his Ted Talk...You may remember Joe. He served as the District Attorney for Umatilla County, ran for the position of Oregon Attorney General some years ago, was the former Chair of the Oregon Democratic Party, and served briefly in the Oregon House of Representatives.
Back in March 2012, Joe did a Ted Talk. And in it he wasn't speaking about law or politics or his vision of government, he was demonstrating a very simple thing: How to use a paper towel. Really? You've got to be kidding! Nope...that is what Joe's Ted Talk was all about, and it has been seen by over three million viewers. Yep, that's the honest to God truth.
Joe's talk is simple, powerful, funny, enlightening, and helpful. And quite frankly, it could change how you dry your hands in the future. In fact, if you watch what Joe has to say, the words shake and fold may take on new meaning in your life, and you might even begin to think of yourself as a bit of an environmentalist.
Watch the video for yourself to see what I mean. It will take you less than five minutes. It is worth the time.
Watch Joe's Ted Talk now.
Sometimes we think that we have to do big things in order to make an impact on our world, but Joe reminds us that simple things can make a difference as well, especially when we do them together.
Maybe Jesus had it right when he said: "Whoever is faithful with very little is also faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little is also dishonest with much." (Luke 16:10) Friends, we are entrusted with God's creation on a daily basis. What we do with our time, energy, resources, and daily habits are how we invest ourselves in the life we are given. And how we use these things makes a difference...yep, even one paper towel at a time!
Let us walk in the light of God's love,

Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.

Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org