One story comes out of Black Rock, Nevada about “The Burning Man” festival. Tens of thousands descended on this small town to explore various forms of artistic self-expression. Think Bonnaroo without the music, but with art. It is also a sort of “community experiment” because “Burning Man” celebrates cultural and racial diversity and it is the largest “leave no trace” gathering of its kind. The cleanup after the festival, accomplished by all the festival-goers, leaves no trace that they were ever there. That’s pretty impressive. Once all the attendees have left, organizers scour the 7 square-mile site for ANY items left behind—feathers, glitter, or flowers that shouldn’t be in the desert. They call this foreign debris “MOOP”—matter out of place.
I admire their desire and determination to leave their place as they found it. Our planet would be much better off if we all took that seriously. Have you ever considered how much “MOOP” inhabits your world?
We are getting ready for our annual Stewardship Campaign in support of our annual operating budget. I’m always on the lookout for stories or items that might be instructive and helpful to me in leading this effort. I’m a big fan of the comic strip “Dilbert”. I think it’s a very smart, biting kind of strip aimed at the business world and shining a light on some of the wacky things we do in our office environments. In one recent strip, the “pointy-headed boss” approaches one of his workers to say, “You’ll be sorry when the world economy collapses. But I’ll be OK because I hoarded gold at my house”. His employee replies, “On Day Two, you’ll trade all that gold for a sandwich.” To which he says, deadpan, “Only if I’m hungry.”
Our misguided attempts to “hoard” so that we will protect ourselves from all calamity is sometimes as comical as Dilbert. The only way we thrive as people is to thrive together—in community with each other—with everyone having “enough”—not loads of stuff stockpiled somewhere. Stewardship is always about having enough.
Maybe stockpiles of stuff is another kind of MOOP.
Finally, my friend sent me a Franciscan Blessing this week:
“May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work of justice, freedom and peace.
. . .And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”