About a year and a half ago, I was riding my bicycle down Commonwealth Avenue on a brisk morning, a poster slung around my shoulder bearing a quote from Fr. Daniel Berrigan, a longtime peace and justice advocate, “Your faith is rarely where your head is at and rarely where your heart is at. Your faith is where your ass is at.”
I was part of a small group of faithful young people who trained to commit civil disobedience in West Roxbury. The energy company Spectra was building an extremely dangerous and unnecessary gas pipeline that would bring fracked gas into Boston. The City of Boston was suing the company, but Spectra had begun building the pipeline anyway. We were part of a group of folks seeking to slow construction. We gathered early in the morning to pray and run through logistics. Then, we marched to the site where they were digging and we linked arms, walked under the construction tape, and sat down in a circle. We sang,
“When the world is sick,
can’t no one be well,
but I dreamt we were all beautiful and strong.”
After about an hour, a local pastor came up to us and said that the police had asked us to leave and would let us go without even a ticket if we got up and left. Each one of us spent some time in silence, until eventually, we nodded to each other. We would stay in our circle, arms linked, singing songs and sitting in our joyful resistance.
We were each, in our own ways, combatting our despair. Despair for the Earth, despair for the damage being done by anthropogenic climate change, despair for our neighborhoods risking their safety for this pipeline. We were seeking the rising up of our own souls in a doomed landscape.
As we were arrested, we sang. We sang in the van and we sang in jail. We sang because our souls had been set free, at least for the moment, from late-stage capitalism’s death-logic.
The pipeline was built anyway. And yet, amidst the destruction and ongoingness of climate chaos, we arose. And all around us, like crocuses through the snow, the people are rising. Amidst the war and oppression, we are rising. Amidst the budget cuts and flooding, we are rising. Amidst the impossible, we are rising. Won’t you join us?
You can join the local climate justice movement in fighting a new pipeline in the Back Bay. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ashley Anderson is a graduate of Boston University School of Theology and School of Social Work. She is committed to cultivating joy, curating creativity, and pursuing justice. She loves The Crossing's commitment to seeking God at the intersection of community, social justice, and liturgy. Ashley enjoys urban gardening and hanging out with her dog, Pope Joan.
The thumbnail image is entitled "Mary Magdalene with Jesus the Christ" by Janet McKenzie.