Life is Green in St. Andrews

The bus passed by on its way to the Old Course. I was on my bike, in the cycle lane. I was pulling behind me a trailer with my five-year old girl packed in. We had just been to the grocery. You could see her head. That was it. She was stuffed in there with our weekly produce. I caught a bit of the bus’ placard as it drove out of sight: “Carbon Neutral Travel.” The city seemed abuzz with green ambition. It made room for a biker and his kid. I moved recently to one of the “greenest” (and windiest) cities in all of the UK, St. Andrews. We are slowly figuring out what that means and slowly adapting. Recycling? Of course. Droves of activist groups? Definitely. No dryers in a hundred miles. Really? And life for the first time without a car? Unimaginably difficult! So what’s it like living in a greenest European city? It has its benefits and its challenges. For example, you start riding your bike everywhere. And when you have problems, you realize how little about bikes you really know. You get your hands dirty with grease more often. You get your temper flaring when you puncture your tire tube a second time in two days – because you don’t know how to change a flat. And you deal with the occasional spray of windshield-washer fluid in your face (remember the wind) as you wonder if riding a bike is really healthier after all. But for all of the challenges, you come to some of the real rewards. The pathways are incredible. The ancient ruins never get old. You can get to them either on the cobbled streets or through the pristine walkways filled with oak, and maple, and spruce. Cycling home through a botanical garden is not much of a burden after all. It gives you time to reflect after a hard day’s work. And life in general, without a car, without a dryer, without what seemed like basic needs, takes a softer turn– if you don’t kick against it. When it takes longer to care for your essential wants, life gets simpler. And you are humbled by the University’s 2016 goal of being carbon neutral and the 2020 goal of being “Zero Waste.” It has been six months now of biking to the grocers and back. Every day I think about why I am here and what it is all for. Why join the movement of God’s people for the healing of his earth? Why hope for purer and greener expressions of Christianity around the world? Why move thousands of miles away from to study the Earthen Spirituality of Jesus and his followers with the magnanimous NT Wright? Because you believe with all your heart that God’s is at work inspiring his people to become better stewards of the earth. Whether it’s getting a PhD or biking to the grocery, you want to do something that matters to Him.


Keith Jagger first met the Sleeths when they were neighbors in Wilmore, Kentucky, and were brought together by their shared passion for creation care. After completing his studies at Asbury Seminary, Keith moved to Scotland to study with N.T. Wright. As Blessed Earth’s “Anglo Correspondent.” Keith writes both from the perspective a PhD student studying creation care and a husband/father/follower of Jesus struggling to incorporate creation care principles in his daily life. You can read more of his writing at keithjagger.com or urban-abbey.com.

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