We breathe the same air, and we drink the same water. Nicole Johnson
My grandfather was an old school farmer. Any suggestions to include newer techniques or farm machinery on the farm was met with either silence or a look that communicated “no” without him saying a word. He spent most of his life on the farm and taught my cousins and me so much about the connectedness and sacredness of life. I remember days with my hands in the dirt. I smile when I think back to the amount of time I spent dreamily sitting by the river as a teenager. My great appreciation for the taste of fresh oranges and bananas picked by my own hand and the smell of green and growing things, remains present to this day.
Back then I didn’t wonder if the water we used on the farm was safe, or if that same water, used in the baptism of my baby cousins, could harm them. I did not consider that the bread I ate during communion may have been grown in soil that was contaminated. It was not at the forefront of my mind on Harvest Days at church when “everyone” brought their offerings to wonder if “everyone” had access to what seemed to me abundant, fertile land. In those days, without my truly understanding, I was learning that our lives were intertwined with our environment.
The rituals we practice in our religious spaces, the daily activities that we participate in are connected to our environment in ways we don’t always think of intentionally. Ordinary things like drinking water, cooking with water and religious rituals that include drinking wine and eating in community we often take for granted. Our bodies cannot survive without water. Baptisms are sometimes performed with just sprinkles, but water nonetheless. We may not think of the safety of the water we need and use. We may not always wonder at the science of water that allows our planet to exist and support life. Wholly sacred and beautifully ordinary water.
Without a doubt, then, my excitement for one of our Partners in Health and Wholeness pilot projects in 2022 is very high. One of this year’s pilot projects is a partnership with North Carolina State University’s Citizen Science Program and online citizen science hub. This project is intended to explore what it can look like to see our environment with eyes of wonder while thinking like a citizen scientist. The pilot project will have a cohort for the winter/spring 2022 that participates in citizen projects such as Crowd the Tap (participants get their water tested for lead), Inaturalist (can be tailored for youth groups and children ministries, outdoor worship and small group study) and Flu Near You. Participants can expect:
- a $500 mini-grant to use towards an environment, faith and health project after completing the cohort (first 25 faith communities)
- input into the development and access to a lending library for small group studies focused on environment, health and faith
- input into the development and access to worship tools such as prayers, small group studies, sermon starters
- Sacred Conversations and Faith and Health Connection Webinars
- opportunity to test participants water for lead and follow up if lead is found
- supporting undergraduate students in STEM fields who will serve as public science ambassadors and provide science talks and lead groups in faith communities
- support from PHW staff in exploring the connections between faith, health and the environment
I hope you will join us for this pilot project. Sign up here to learn more. To preview the citizen science portal (view only) here. The first webinar, Wholly Sacred and Beautifully Ordinary: Water, will be offered on February 11, 2022 at 11 am and 6 pm (CLICK HERE TO REGISTER).