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I blog about my Catholic faith, my prayer life, good books and good movies.

Field Notes from an Imperfect Environmentalist

Abigail Benjamin

In September 2015, I took my Catholic family of 8 down to Washington D. C. to see Pope Francis. We stood across from the White House in a crowd of millions and waited to see him in the Papal Parade. It wasn't a dramatic moment. Pope Francis passed by quickly and waved in the other direction from us. One kid climbed a tree for a better view and one kid feel asleep on top of my jean jacket. I'm not sure the 6 month old baby attached to his Daddy's back saw anything. Nothing happened.  Yet out of that meeting, I decided to make one small change. I picked one small volunteer project to do for the environment in honor of Pope Francis who had done so much for me.

Eight months later, I am taking the Bar Exam in July to open an Environmental Law Practice in my homestate of West Virginia. The books came this week from Barbri and the work is daunting. The last time I was in Law School was 16 years ago and I remember just enough to answer wrong on every trick multiple choice question. It's going to be an intensive summer relearning some mindnumbingly dull stuff. I felt uncertain about how to study for the bar and be a decent Mom and have a decent life.

Then last night I drove 10 miles to attend a Citizens Safe Water Forum put on by WV Rivers Coalition, the League of Women Voters and the Public Health Department. In this room of amazing, energized people I was reminded about why I want to go "pro" with all the volunteer work I've started in the past few months. Water is a basic human need. My State of West Virginia, which is poor is so many aspects, is rich in water. We are a State with a population of under 2 million that produces the drinking water for 10 million people.

I am a Mother of 6 young children and I found the time to attend an Environmental Conference in my neighborhood. I attend political rallies and City Council Meetings. I'm taking a new State Bar exam 12 years after I thought I'd retired forever from the Law.

I'm convinced that I'm not some special case. We all do amazing things for God and with God. It's the quiet, hidden work of prayer and humble service that makes us most fitted for public life. This summer, I hope that among the plans for beach trips and garden planting, you make a commitment to do "one small thing" in honor of Pope Francis. It's the Year of Mercy and the world is waiting for our small acts of love and purpose.