Outrage boiled up within me, making my skin hot and my hair stand on edge. I was nestled in the hills of West Virginia, kneeling in Bethlehem Farm’s garden.
Holding a fresh, new sweet potato plant
Smelling the sweet, rich earth
Feeling the warm sun on my face
I closed my eyes and breathed in God’s sanctuary
Then I opened my eyes.
I saw a cloud of smoke rising just above those beloved mountains.
I heard the machines, drilling into the rock to make space for the natural gas pipeline
Many people are unaware of how violently we treat Appalachia. Surface mining and fracking destroy mountains. The ecosystem is devastated, the air and water contaminated.
We as a nation close our eyes.
We distance ourselves from this land and people,
blindly unaware of the damage being done
in the name of development, progress, business, comfort
We are a divided nation, scattered so much that we forget that we belong to each other
We forget God’s promise
We are God’s people
This land is not only for us
It’s for our children
The prophet Ezekiel calls us to open our eyes
We see our broken nation. We see violence and destruction.
As people of faith, we also see God’s vision.
Often, that vision seems far beyond our reach.
But we trust that the God who keeps promises will help us to do something and to do it well.
Our work will be unfinished.
But we choose to put our stock in the everlasting covenant.
It is this radical hope that turns our mourning into joy, our lament into action.
We may not be able to reunite a divided nation.
But with faith in the God who gathers up, we can come a little closer.
During Lent, how can you come closer to the earth and your neighbors?
Maddie LaForge is a current M.Div. student at the Jesuit School of Theology. Her current areas of interest are Christian social ethics and pastoral theology. Prior to JST, Maddie graduated from Spring Hill College, majoring in theology and psychology. She also served as a Jesuit volunteer in Tacna, Peru from 2015-2017.