Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #89: Dos and Don'ts for Autumn Walks

October 6, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
October is - in my humble opinion - the  best month for enjoying God’s creations outdoors while taking time to go on a leisurely walk or modestly ambitious hike. The trees’ glorious autumn colors in and around Vienna are lighting up in their many incarnations, and while I enjoy the beauties of spring just as much, there is something about the light and the crisp air in October and November that is quite unmatched.  At the same time, October is also the month during which we conclude Creationtide - in fact three days ago, on St. Francis Day, October 4th. This year’s Creationtide theme is Listen to the Voice of Creation, and one of the things we are asked to do is - as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis, and Patriarch Bartholomew I put it about a year ago - listen to the Earth’s cries for help. This got me thinking: What would the Earth want to tell us right now, in October, in Vienna?
Don’t mess me up is what I'd imagine Earth would probably want to aks us - or at least warn those of us going out for walks and hikes. There also might be praise - such as look, isn’t creation wonderful over here in the Alps, or some lamenting, Woo, what has been done to my Glaciers. As it were, indeed, we hikers and walkers have a tendency to mess things up for nature. So for this blog, we have summarized for you the four or five most important tips - or rather: rules - for doing both: Enjoying nature while not messing it up.
1. (All of!) what you bring is what you take.  This expectation is probably the single most important - and most easily disrespected “rule”. Most of us (even though not all) know by now to not leave behind tins, plastic boxes, and other larger packaging.  But still - I often see hikers who say they are careful with what they leave behind - but then throw things in the woods or leave them by the sidelines that will take years to biodegrade/decompost.  These include bananas (2 years to biodegrade), orange peels (6 months to biodegrade), nuts (up to many years), or tissue paper (1 month).  So: If in doubt - put the leftovers you have in your backpack, whatever they may be. If you are looking for more info, check out the LeaveNoTrace Center for Outdoor Ethics or the GreenJournal.
2. Take the train, leave the car.  Across Vienna and its neighbouring towns, multiple initiatives have emerged promoting the use of public transport when venturing out to the mountains.  Under the catchy name Bahn-Zum-Berg, something like train-to-trail,  the campaign offers tips for tours that take under 2,5 hours to get to by public transport. The general idea here is that people should not leave a negative environmental footprint while trying to enjoy nature. In our parish, we have a few people who have perfected this already - and while they may not want to be in this blog, ask me and I’ll connect you
3. Leave wildlife - and nature - alone. This seems obvious - but how often do you see folks hiking off-trail, picking flowers, taking stones or sticks?  Or, even worse, letting their dogs roam free. Leaving nature alone means to not disturb nature - beyond the trails!  And so, yes, you should take photos and memories with you - but nothing else that you did not bring. As a dog owner myself I know the temptation of letting your four legged friend enjoy the new smells out there - but also here: Caution applies.
4. Protect - and pack - your water. Out of curiosity, a few months ago I signed up as a follower with the Mountain Rescue team (Bergwacht) in the Wiener Alpen. Just reading through the posts I was astonished by how many people seem to go for hikes either without packing any water or with packing too little and then end up having to be actually rescued because at some point their body refuses walking and they get stuck someplace. So: A simple - and please: non-plastic - bottle is what you do want to pack, nicely filled with that good fresh water we have here.
5. No fires, no fires, no fires. Most of us will have no problem respecting this rule - it's really just about being careful. Luckily - and that’s where you got to love October - we have had a good amount of rain over the past weeks, so there are no imminent risks of causing a wildfire. Sometimes when out there one will need to make a fire - particularly if you are out overnight and want to have that hot cup of tea or cook your stew for the night. Just be careful, careful careful.
With these points in mind: Off you go to enjoy God’s creation in October. And in the spirit of Creationtide, do consider taking St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun with you. Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures / especially through my lord Brother Sun / who brings the day; and you give light through him / And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!.
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Blog #88: Let's care for our Harvest!

September 29, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
It seems odd, perhaps, that today, September 29, the day we publish our Blog to celebrate Harvesting Day, happens to also be International Day of Awarness on Food and Loss Reduction (with the somewhat un-pronouncable acronym IDAFLR).  But maybe it’s not so odd after all: While estimates of the actual amounts seem to vary, it’s fairly well known that a huge share of what we harvest goes to waste.  Not surprisingly, more is wasted where food is more plentiful, and it seems even less surprisingly that we consumers have a lot to say - and can do a lot - about how much is actually wasted. So, what’s at stake?
Before rattling off statistics and showing you the (admittedly) shocking info-graphics about food that is wasted, every day, in our households, I would want to invite you to reflect for a moment on the sense of gratitude that as Christians we tend to associate with harvesting as an activity and with food as its product. This time last year, Saying Thanks was the title of the LivingLight blog on October 7 that celebrated Harvest Thanksgiving. In writing that blog at the time, I learned about Lammas Day in the UK, the Pongal Festival in Sri Lanka, the Argungu Festival in Northern Nigeria - even finding a rather long list of harvest festivals around the world. In the meantime, Austrians are quite relaxed about when their Erntedank is celebrated - festivities begin in mid September and run through mid October, depending on where you are.  Here, the term celebration is the right one - events do feature music, singing, and often dancing - and given the wealth of the country, the predominant feeling - and of course the name of the festivity itself - is indeed one of gratitude. Gratitude is one of my favorite instruments in our arsenal as Christians! Pope Francis has a beautiful way of putting itt  “Gratitude is always a powerful weapon. Only if we are able to contemplate and feel genuine gratitude for all those ways we have experienced God’s love, generosity, solidarity and trust, as well as his forgiveness, patience, forbearance and compassion, will we allow the Spirit to grant us the freshness that can renew… our life and mission”.

Picture: Vienna already celebrated its Erntedankfest on September 11 and 12 on the Heldenplatz. Across Austria, towns and churches choose different dates in September and October for the festivities. 

So, armed with a strong sense of gratitude, what should we know - and do - about making sure our harvests do not get lost - or rather: wasted?  Firstly, let’s remember that here in Austria, about one million tons of food go wasted every year, and over half of the food which to waste one could avoid is wasted in individual households, adding up to around 130 kilos of food every year.  Over half of that is made up of breads, fruit and vegetables; the rest is comprised of milk products, cheeses and eggs, meats and sausages, and so on. Not wasting any food in households and supermarkets - and not loosing any food on the fields, in transit to processing plants or during processing and transport, would mean that we’d be able to feed many more people on the planet - or to avoid about 8-10% of today's global Greenhousegas emissions.
In celebrating harvest day this year, let’s see what we can do - ourselves - to reduce the food wasted that we are close to!  You can find online multiple list of opportunities to reduce food waste here in Vienna. I also compiled my own list, based on who we are here at ChristChurch and where we live in Vienna: Check out these four things - they are all do-able, easy to integrate in one’s life, and high-impact - so maybe worth a thought.  
  • Once a quarter, or whenever feasible: Support and/or participate in s’Haeferl, a Vienna-based initiative providing food to those in need - leveraging contributions from supermarkets' and hotels' left-overs.
  • Once a week or once a month: Shop using the To-good-to-go app - a online service that helps you identify which supermarkets or fast-food places have left-overs available, at the end of the day, for lower prices.
  • Once a week: Cook a meal with leftovers. And let's remember: Pizza was invented that way!
  • Daily or every other day: Go through our fridges and check the expiration dates. 
Inspired?  Let’s all take some action - and let's celebrate our harvest day by taking care of the food that arrives on our tables!
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Blog #87: A "Green" King

September 22, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Last week, there was no CreationKeepers Blog. It was a week when silence and mourning seemed more appropriate, remembering the life and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. First and foremost, the people of the United Kingdom said farewell to their Sovereign, together with friends and allies from many other countries. Just like here at Christ Church in Vienna, Anglican communities around the world mourned the Queen’s passing, given her role and service as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This role has now been passed on to King Charles III. And while I’d love to tell you more about the many environmental and stewardship topics that are of importance right now and here in Vienna, as September nears its end, we felt we should take a quick look at what it might mean for the Anglican community to have a leader in the Church of England who profoundly cares for, and knows a lot about, helping solve the environmental challenges we all face today.
Will the United Kingdom have a Green King in the years or decades to come? And will the Church of England have a green Supreme Governor?  The mainstream press did not dedicate much attention to this question. Spiders and familial interactions seemed to dominate of the headlines, alongside more serious expressions of respect and acknowledgement of historical relevance of both the late Queen and her succession.  A website dedicated to Orthodoxy shared a Telegraph Article informing us that the King will not attend the annual conference on Climate Change to be held in Egypt in November (COP 27), even though in his role as a Prince, he had originally planned to do so. But otherwise, I did not see many comments about the new Church of England leader’s environmental interests coming from faith-based organizations. In particular, organizations dedicated to exploring and championing environmental stewardship across the Anglican and Episcopal churches seemed to remain quiet on this question throughout the last two weeks.
A Green Prince, the new King has been, for many years, going back to the 1960s when he noticed the perils of the local salmon population up in Scotland, stemming from overfishing in some waterways. He also publicly lamented the destruction of nature from oil pollution early on. Ever since, Charles has dedicated considerable time and energy to advocating for sustainability, whether through his contact with ministers in government, through public comments, through chairing or supporting specific charities, or through some of his own initiatives. The need to live sustainably seemed to be obvious to someone who, by role and upbringing, may be looking at life’s questions within more of a framework of centuries past and centuries to come. Whatever one may think about monarchy as a political system, Royals are there for the long term, offering an opportunity to translate a sense of values, inheritance, and care for  generations to come also to the longevity of God’s creation more broadly.  For the last forty years, Charles has championed many a green cause, backing charities, supporting campaign groups, and getting personally involved in conversations with world leaders about the climate crisis. Notably, he has for fifteen years now, annually published his own carbon footprint, for longer and and with more information than most corporations.
King Charles III, in his first statement as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has spoken movingly about his personal faith and about his commitment to diversity and respect for other faith communities. He seems to be a leader that will support us in mobilizing our faith and action towards some of the biggest challenges we all face together. He may well be doing so in the future also in appealing for more and better stewardship of nature. In doing so, he would be able to build on a strong foundation here since, in fact, we are already in a good place in the Anglican Communion. Much progress has been made by our churches over the past years, certainly in how we formally and regularly direct recognition and prayers towards the important and urgent environmental challenges of today. In the Church of England, we have Creationtide, the liturgical season of remembering and cherishing God’s creation. We have the five marks of mission, the fifth of which is our commitment to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” We have La Rocha, the work on our own churches to become eco churches. We have Environmental Officers as well as within-and-across-church networks, such as the Green Anglicans and and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. There is a lot already, and it's diverse and sometimes truly thriving.
My sense is that we may well not hear as much from Charles the King as we heard from Charles the Prince on choices and topics in the environmental realm, given the King’s constitutional commitment to political neutrality. The responsibilities for many of Charles’s environmental charities seem to be passing on to Prince William, who already began championing some of such causes over the past years, including but not limited to launching the new EarthShot prize as well as an ITV documentary about his environmental work (“Prince William: A planet for us all”) and involving himself in work to engage the private sector in environmental action. But Charles may, in some of his other roles, perhaps as the Head of the Commonwealth, remain a champion for environmental action. The Commonwealth itself is pursuing an ambitious environmental agenda with major programs to address climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The King’s role in environmental matters may well be more behind the scenes where he can use his presence and convening power to bring people together, supporting international effort to build a coalition of the world. As a member of an Anglican church, I feel encouraged by his presence.
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Blog #86: A Poem about Haikus for Creation

September 8, 2022
Rosalind Shakespear

This moment in time/
Through the alchemy of words/
Captured yet set free.

This poem is the last in our blog's summer series of Haikus, a series we called "Living Light in Summertime" and with which we replaced our regular weekly blog during vacation time. For 10 weeks, our readers contributed all kinds of Haikus, reflecting on God's creation or on efforts in Creation-keeping. Rosalind's poem here is the last one - concluding the cycle aptly in that it reflects with appreciation on the magic that happens when writing.  "Thank you for the Haiku Project", Rosalind wrote to the EcoChurch team when sending in her poem. "It has given some of us easily accessible creative possibilities, really enjoyable!".  In this spirit, many thanks to everyone who contributed!
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