Derek’s Story

Ali's SA photos mar 08 020
I’m a bit of a recent convert to ‘Planet & Soul’ thinking. 8 years ago I met my wife and I was obliged to rethink most of my assumptions and many of my habits!

Before we met I thought that I was quite eco-friendly (I cycled and recycled- that was about it!) and I was coasting along quite happily with a busy social and church life. I soon found out I had a lot to learn.

What really struck me at the time was that ‘what was good for the planet was also good for the soul’ (as I recorded in my journal). Many of the time-honoured spiritual disciplines and principles (solitude, simplicity, moderation, reflection, love for neighbor and fasting for example) would not only enrich my daily life but were also synonymous with what the planet desperately needed to flourish.

Given my upbringing I should have known better. 25 years of living quite comfortably in and around London had knocked a lot of the sense out of me.

I grew up on a small farm in rural Suffolk and many of the principles I’m now re-investigating were second nature back then. There were 7 of us in my family and my father was a farm laborer. Simple economics dictated some huge doses of simplicity and moderation for instance! Lack of any council rubbish collection also ensured much early experience of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Having too much stuff and living a frenzied existence were not pressing issues in Athelington (population 106) in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Before I left Suffolk I trained as an accountant and have worked in recent years for a large central London church. I dipped my toe for a few years into studying theology and am particularly interested in exploring the myriad connections between theology, spirituality and living ‘lightly and freely’ as Eugene Peterson translates Matthew 11 v 30. I believe that we will only see the changes the planet needs if the issue of the soul is addressed first. We need a change of heart and a new way of thinking.

From an early age I have loved to do my praying and reflecting out-of-doors. I come alive when I step outside into God’s ‘great cathedral’. So I am particularly interested in exploring how we can connect meaningfully with the natural world and meet some of our spiritual needs in the process.

I’m also interested in making ‘loving the planet and restoring our souls’ an accessible way of living for ordinary folks. Instead of invoking guilt I’d like to explore how re-connecting both inwards and outwards (and upwards) can help us rise above the obsessive consumer-driven society all around us. The food we eat, the holidays we take, the way we travel, the stuff we buy, our walk with God and how we spend our time; all these and more I’d love to explore in the light of our calling to live ‘lightly and freely’.