There’s more to being green . . .

Happy Earth Month, everyone! I’m Nancy Peterson, Chair of the Green Sanctuary committee. It’s my great pleasure to welcome you on this first Sunday of Earth Month, 2016.

I think I’ve always been somewhat green. One of my earliest memories of my green connection was a dress my mother mail-ordered. She always ordered pink for me and blue for my sister.  But they were out of pink, so they sent a green dress, with a little red cherry embroidered on the white collar. That’s when I started thinking green.  My current green dress has a tree of life, rather than a red cherry.

But of course there’s more to being green than the color of clothing you wear.  Growing up on a small farm in western NY, we spent much of our time outdoors and grew up with a love of nature. When I was in college I started attending Unitarian churches wherever I happened to be. This lasted a few years, but there was no green connection. So I took Sundays to commune with nature by hiking or cross-country skiing.

When I met Ed Kautz in the 1990s, one thing we had in common was our love of nature. But  he was fairly active at the UU church in Albany. As we spent more time together and eventually were married, we got involved in this church. I became active on the Social Action Council. We got our green connections in other ways.

When I retired from teaching, I became actively involved in local environmental organizations.  Through ECOS,  the LWV Environment Committee and Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council, I discovered other important ways to support the environment, such as advocacy, recycling, and energy efficiency projects.

In the fall of 2005 I became aware of the UU Ministry for Earth and the Green Sanctuary. It was an exciting discovery for me. I mentioned it to a number of my UU friends, and in early 2006 we started meeting as the Green Sanctuary Committee. Our to-do list already included energy efficiency, building improvements and environmental justice ideas. By the end of 2006 we had organized recycling at FUSS. An early event you may remember was our showing of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.” We showed it one evening to almost 100 people!

In May 2009, after much hard work on many projects, our church was accredited as a Green Sanctuary.

Last spring at the CRUUNY service, Crys Hamelink came up to me and suggested the idea that “Climate Justice” should be one of the “Living Our Principles” projects for the congregation to vote on. We got to work putting together our proposal, and when the congregation voted, this project tied with “Family Promise” so now we’re involved with both projects. The Green Sanctuary Committee coordinates and keeps plans moving forward.

So it is that my deeply ingrained Earth Spirituality found a spiritual home at UUSS. We’ve really grown together over the last 10 years. My retirement years have been greatly enriched by my connections here. I don’t know of any other way that I could have expressed my Earth spirituality in as rich and meaningful a way. I continue active participation with environmental organizations in the wider community, but my UUSS connections are particularly important, because they nurture the spirituality of my environmental soul.

At  its essence, environmentalism is stewardship, caring for what we consider worthy.  I’ve broadened my UUSS connection by becoming involved in the Stewardship Committee because of this concept of stewardship as caring. We express caring by sharing all our resources, not only treasure, but also time, talent. I believe this is equally important for our Earth home and our spiritual home.

But there’s one dark cloud hovering over my connections here at UUSS, and you may actually be able to help me with this. My macular degeneration has reached the point where it’s like walking around in a world of ghosts. By the time I figure out who just said “Hi, Nancy” you’re long gone. And since I can’t see the names on the name tags, I’m way behind in remembering everyone’s name. But I’m still hoping to stay connected for years to come, and I would very much appreciate your help with this.

Thank you, and I hope you’re looking forward to a Happy Earth Month as much as I am!

Nancy Peterson