Cleanup provides learning

Group of nine people in reflective yellow vests, holding garbage bags, in a park.
The Rev. Canon Stephen Peake and members of St. Bride, Clarkson clean up a local park to celebrate Earth Day.
 on May 30, 2023

Park yields more than litter

Earth Day was celebrated by St. Bride, Clarkson with a community cleanup and lunch on April 22. Our outreach committee chose the environment as one of three focus areas this year, and this was one way that we could fulfil this commitment.

The event targeted not only our church community but the wider community too, as Birchwood Park, the area we chose to tidy, was in our neighbourhood.

The weather was not bright and sunshiny at all! We all arrived with rain gear on and umbrellas in hand. We had made the decision to clean up the park in rain or sunshine (unless it was torrential rain!) The participants, about 12 in total, left the park cleaner than we found it, but we also left quite wet. We then made our way back to St. Bride’s to warm up, eat some pizza and wings, and watch some Earth Day recordings from Bishop Andrew Asbil (in 2019) and Pope Francis. These recordings reminded us how creation care is an element of our faith; we were commanded to be good stewards of our world.

The best part of the day, however, was an unexpected learning. Leading up to the event, some people shared with us how clean Birchwood Park is, and that having the event last for two hours may not be feasible because there would not be enough for the participants to do. However, when we arrived and started to pick up litter, this nugget of unexpected learning occurred: on the surface, the park looked immaculate, but once you changed your lens to look specifically for litter, there was more than enough to keep us picking for the two hours. We picked up plastic bags, broken plastic toboggan pieces, PVC piping, paper wrappers from fast food restaurants and more.

The Rev. Canon Stephen Peake, our rector, shared in his sermon the next day that “we do not always see things unless we are directly impacted by them.” This was something that we have taken forward from this event: to look at creation care with different lenses. We recognize that to really participate in creation care, we need to look past what we think we know and be curious about what else we have not seen yet.

We were thankful for the learning from the wet morning, the fellowship as we were tidying and eating, and the prayers for our creation, said together at the end of the event. Thanks go to our outreach committee and the Hrisihi Mogre and the AppLabb Group, who provided lunch to our small but mighty group!


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