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Practising spirituality, rediscovering the goodwill of the Lord

Written by: Ken Wong (Communications Officer)

We previously launched the ‘Lenten Prayer Guide’ (Chinese only) to help everyone cultivate a heart for creation care during this period. Our colleagues have also engaged in various practices during Lent. Some have abstained from eating beef to reduce carbon emissions, while others have chosen walking instead of short-distance transportation. As for myself, I chose to abstain from coffee and organised an outing with fellow brothers and sisters to clean up litter in the countryside. I hope to share some insights from my experience of abstaining from coffee here.

The initial reason for choosing to give up coffee as part of the practice was the realisation of the environmental impact of coffee cultivation. According to the carbon footprint tracking website CO2 Everything, the carbon dioxide emitted in the cultivation of a cup of coffee, which contains approximately 15g of coffee beans, is equivalent to driving a car for 2 kilometres. With an estimated global consumption of around 2 billion cups of coffee per day, this is equivalent to a car driving 4 billion kilometres (enough to circle the Earth’s equator approximately 100,000 times). It’s astonishing to discover the significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions from coffee consumption daily!

Practising abstinence was not easy. I was accustomed to drinking coffee every day, so during the first two weeks, I experienced headaches and fatigue everyday. It was indeed challenging, especially with a heavy workload. There were moments when I had pounding headaches and desperately wanted to have a cup of coffee to relieve the discomfort. Amid one particularly intense headache, as I contemplated giving up the practice, it struck me that relying solely on coffee for alertness was not part of the original plan intended by our Lord. Instead, a regular and proper sleep schedule was designed to allow us to restore energy and repair our bodily functions. However, humans have reduced their sleep time to enhance productivity and relied on various means, including coffee, to stay awake. While coffee may provide a short-term energy boost, it cannot compensate for the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, such as emotional issues, impaired judgement, weakened immune system, and the decline of various bodily functions.

Since then, every experience of headaches and fatigue has symbolised the bitter consequences of a distorted lifestyle, driving me to improve my sleep schedule and strive to adjust my life rhythm. Replacing sleep with coffee takes a toll on the body, reminding me of the tremendous damage humans have inflicted on the natural environment over the past century. We have overexploited resources, emitted vast amounts of greenhouse gases, and destroyed forests and ecosystems to satisfy our consumption demands. This relentless pursuit of more has led to numerous serious issues for the Earth, including climate change, species extinction, and environmental pollution. Despite the improvement in human quality of life, significant ecological destruction is hidden behind it, just as insufficient sleep can harm the body.

In addition to the reflections mentioned above, I was grateful that the Lord has also given me abundant grace and strength, allowing my body to adapt to a state without coffee and slowly recover. I hope that in the future, I can enjoy coffee rather than rely on it. We reclaim our healthy bodies by returning to the beauty of the Lord’s original design. I wonder if the broken Earth can be restored to the Lord’s original design and receive humanity’s stewardship and thoughtful care.

The season of Lent is an opportunity for us to practise spirituality and seek the will of the Lord. However, practising is not exclusive to the Lenten period. I encourage everyone to continue practising even after Lent, with the hope that we will have a deeper understanding of the Lord’s will and carry a heart of creation care, bearing witness to the goodness of the Lord.