Small Joys


Small Joys

By Claire Curran

As I drive my car to work, I often see cyclists, braving the cold Minnesota spring. Sometimes I take a moment to recognize their commitment, the beauty of their action, and decision to ride emission-less across the city. More often, I’m distracted by the seemingly endless to-do list scrolling in my mind. 

I am deep in the midst of organizing MNIPL’s Interfaith Prayer Circle. This Tuesday April 22nd MNIPL, people of faith, and faith leaders from across traditions will join to lift up our voices for what matters most: clean air, safe water, and ensuring a healthy future for all people. Over the past weeks we have grown to know the faith leaders who will join us on the 22nd, and are truly struck by their dedication to addressing environmental and social justice in the congregations, communities, and personal lives. One such leader is Pastor Travis Norvell, who might have been one of the cyclists I pass on my commute to work. 

You see, Pastor Travis has decided to travel primarily by bike, and at times, by public transit. Travis calls himself, the cycling clergyman. After getting to know Travis a bit it is clear that environmental and social justice are key components of his ministry. So I was curious. Why did he decide to stop driving and start cycling? More importantly, why now? Travis answered:

“During a second hour discussion at Judson, Dr. Carolyn Pressler from United Seminary made a comment about a making a large sacrifice to enable small joys.  For years I have recycled, conserved energy, and tried to live with a green consciousness but always felt defeated and helpless.  After Dr. Pressler's quote I said to myself, "that's it, I'm giving up my car."  I gave up my car in January of 2014 and have biked, taken the bus/light rail or car pooled for my job as a pastor.  I've met amazing people over the past few months, enriched my community, learned patience, seen the metro area from a revealing angle, and seem to have a sharper mind.  More than anything I've noticed the change that is needed to move to a greener economy and lifestyle is not that difficult, it's just making that first difficult step to start moving the inertia.”  

I love that idea of enabling, finding, creating, and welcoming small joys into our daily lives. That is integral to the work we are doing at MNIPL, and it’s a primary reason of why I not only love the work that I do, but feel that it is effective and engaging. We know that we are fighting a very big fight. Effectively mitigating the climate crisis and ensuring a healthy, safe future for all is no easy task. It’s a task we cannot take on unless we infuse it with joy. 

We hope that you’ll join us for one such opportunity for joy, reflection, and community. Come hear from Pastor Travis Norvell on Earth Day at the State Capitol (4/22 at 4:45) as he joins with others in helping to deepen our spiritual commitment to the earth and asks our leaders to powerfully act to create a just and sustainable world.