I am part of an eco-team in St John’s church in Egham. We are dedicated to being Stewards for our surrounding environment. Last year we put together an eco-festival and my part was to get people attending. This year was going to be a bigger challenge. However, am pretty sure God is speaking to me through my calendar – a motivational calendar my brother gifted to me in Dec 2019. What has this got to do with the St. John’s Eco-Festival that I found myself hosting? A lot.
January 2020: Success is a Journey. Not a destination.
Sunrises, rainbows, wild animals, trees and sunsets mean far more to me than a quote. This meant nothing to me at the time but when Covid 19 hit, this would mean much more.
In January 2020, we (the Eco-Church team) had set a date for St John’s Eco-Festival and a thread was created to list ideas: “Eco-festival Ideas for Fri 10 – Sun 12th July”
However, we were working to the old normal, running on the treadmill of working, visiting people, helping, sorting out the eco-acts, and doing lots of activities. The Eco-Festival was far from our minds as we assumed we would be doing something similar – education, some stalls and repairs.
February 2020: Don’t be affraid to fail, believe. Get up, do it. Never listen that you can’t. You Can
God was laying the foundation and planting seeds of thoughts.
The Eco-Festival had been put on the agenda of our monthly meeting, but we didn’t have time to discuss it thoroughly amongst all the other eco-actions taking precedent. As Covid was also silently spreading throughout the UK, my brother in Singapore was warning me & asking me about the type of action the UK was taking.
March 2020: This too, shall pass
Covid had properly hit the UK. I had mildly observed the Calendar quote, agreeing with it as a passing thought. We (the Eco-Church) held our first online meeting.
April 2020: A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor
And during April the seas were choppy. Were we in the same boat or were in different boats in the same storm? We were still steering towards a physical festival, with the hope that that the trend would be like the Spanish Flu but a skilled sailor adapts to the swirls, the storms and the waves and so would we.
May 2020: Enjoy Your Life
Covid had caused us to slow down and to appreciate the natural world. In Egham, our natural world had been drowned out for so long by Heathrow planes and the M25 traffic. Our community began to understand the importance of our natural world and how it positively affected our mental health and well being. Good stewardship of our environment became obvious to many more. We had forgotten what it was like to have quiet nights, fresh air, and hearing the birds sing. Many more were actually enjoying life and their surroundings.
But the Covid sea was still choppy and sensitive and the weather ahead extremely uncertain especially with fractions of our society that sail their boat haphazardly.
“We should make it part virtual and part physical that allows social distancing to ensure it runs” I boldly suggested.
Being one of the few who understood technology, we needed to give it a go. February was talking.
I was asked to create a framework. This was going to require a lot of work and perhaps I was the only one that could see this. Remember Peter could walk on water as long as he kept on believing in Jesus: Matthew 14:22-33
“Sure but I still need all of you to help me”. I had never created a virtual festival butwas now the captain of the boat and needed to encourage the crew to help me. Hilary was the first wanting to jump the boat, feeling technically the weakest and too old to be part of a virtual event.
But Hilary has an amazing creative mind. One of her many ideas was to create a trail of hope….
June 2020: Where there’s life there’s hope
Hilary became my rock and although she may have thought she was too old to get involved in a virtual world, she redeveloped herself to help me put the ideas together within an online mindmapping tool.
Time was extremely short and reaching out to the community & putting together the online content was a full time job. No one knew what a virtual festival would be like and it was up to me to evolve it and create it. There were several instances where I felt the swells would overturn the boat, but January was calling out. Jonah 1 taught us how God is with us and wants to reach out to the community.
With many online discussions being crafted, an editor was desperately needed with such a short time frame. Sleep was wanting, but marathons had trained me to focus on the nearest checkpoint. 25 posts had been developed that needed checking. The eco-team tried to fit it in between work, and Hilary stepped up to edit the majority.
July 2020: You are the Creator of your own Destiny
Life can be overwhelming, if we allow it to. We can decide how we will respond when we are drowning. We can either call for help or sink under the water. I asked for help as “Many hands make light work”. There was still liasing with speakers, collecting their online videos, uploading videos, online ticket creation, more post development and marketing.
Romans 8:31 “If God is with us, who can be against us?”….It is important to note at this point the success of the eco-festival 2020 was made possible by the collaboration and support within the eco-church and that others within the church had indeed come forward to provide either technical support as well as support towards the messages of hope, a mini-physical fair, and lots of prayers.
I do not know if many of our church members watched the online discussions, but I do know that we touched many within our community and beyond. As well as from Egham, there were attendees from the USA, Italy, Spain, Scotland, and Ireland.
August 2020: Among the lucky, you are the chosen one
Dunno about luck as I feel burnt out, but St John’s eco-church is being recognized within the community as we build bridges with councilors and MPs to help develop the borough’s climate change strategy with others within the community. Our vicar Esther has prayed for love for each other, love for the community and love for our environment. The eco-church’s love for our environment, has sent out love to its community members and leaders.
September 2020: I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards
This is the month the eco-church team finally put together hope messages that we collected from both the community and church members. There are more to come. Thank you to all those contributions.
At the same time, perhaps it is time to run more virtual marathons with a tyre.
Hope is in many shapes and forms. Come experience hope at St John’s
October 2020: Don’t Let Your Motivation Burnout
As I turn over the page, getting my calendar ready, I notice October….
After the green discussions in July, I agreed to drive the development of cycling plans for Runnymede as there are none and many of the cycling routes are woeful and unsafe. During lockdown the bicycle shops did a roaring trade and had sold out of bicycles. Many more people were venturing out on the streets to cycle. Now with the cars growling & car owners aggressively trashing the road, the new cyclists have been pushed back into their cars. Right now I feel kind of burnt out, sometimes wanting to hide away.
But our natural world needs many more protectors and I am thankful that more people are coming forward to help towards developing a cycle plan, and with this being resident led, am hoping the borough will implement the plans in the future.
As I head into October, I am reminded of Psalm 18:2
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Allons y as they say in French.