Monday, June 10, 2013


A recent email from reader Alicia Rae Drost re responding peacefully to bad neighbors:


While you probably have more reading material than you know what to do with, I want to share with you these few pieces because your desire for justice, heart for the people, and interest in current events has become evident to me. I do not know if this particular story will interest you, but I was surprised by the passion this issue evoked within my spirit.

I've meant for quite some time now to share this with you, and I don't believe I yet have done so...

The installment of an irresponsible Canadian oil pipeline in the States causes many discrepancies and produces many reactions. The response held by The Hermitage, a Mennonite-orchestrated retreat center in Southwestern Michigan seems most appropriate...

There's this link which is an article about how the oil line will effect (or is it affect?) the land belonging to the retreat center and what the owners/directors intend to do about it (which I find to be a very wise response):

Then there's this link which speaks more about the response given by the hermitage and surrounding community:

If you chose to peruse the second link you'd probably discover this poem written by the directors of the retreat center, but since I do not know if you have the time to do so I'll include it here. What impacts me about this poem is that while it addresses the sorrow we may have over the destruction of land and trees and wildlife it also acknowledges our role in this destruction, and isn't that recognition what will bring about healthy change, if anything will?"

The Earth Speaks 
by Naomi R. Wenger and David Wenger
(found at: Catapult Magazine)

Giving voice to the earth is a monumental task, but one that we feel keenly as we anticipate the loss of what is here and its replacement with a hidden harbinger of what is more dangerous than terrorism, more insidious than pollution, and almost as ubiquitous and purposed as the air we breathe.

How massive the equipment that bears down upon me, obliterating all that springs forth from within:

oaks, cherries, hickories, sumac, beech groves to come, sassafras for tea, apple trees, dogwood, broom sedge, bouncing bet, butterfly weed, wild asters, Queen Anne’s Lace, yarrow, goldenrod, black berries, black raspberries, wild grapes mushrooms and even poison ivy;

ensnaring, crushing and displacing all that finds a resting place upon me:

box turtles, snapping turtles, turkeys, wrens, evening grosbeaks, pileated woodpeckers, flickers, downy woodpeckers, dragonflies, dung beetles, butterflies, sow bugs, striped beetles, ground hogs, chipmunks, rabbits, gophers, squirrels, deer, raccoons, coyotes, hog snakes, black racers and garden snakes.

How violent the scoops that cut me open,

     deep wounds bleeding mound upon mound of soil,

     digging down, down, down;

     reversing infertile dirt and top soil so that I am left scarred and barren.

How repulsive the implant of metal veins

     coursing black tar from sandy deposits through me

     to be refined and then used against me to power more machines that ravish and kill.

Oh, to be caressed with soft footfalls and tender scratching,

     to be gentled into producing that which gives life to all,

     to be without the pain of more, bigger, faster.

How long ?

How deep?

How big?

How much is enough?



  1. If we're all driving cars and what not, isn't this proof of our hypocrisy and self-delusion?

  2. This post absolutely spoke volumes. I live in East Texas in the woods, at least 5 miles in from the main road. For the past three years we have been watching the land being raped and torn and bulldozed and . . . well, you get it! Each day as I drive home from town (which is 17 mi) some new pillage has happened, and I tell my husband each night, oh, those poor animals, oh, those poor trees!! We plant new trees each year when it's safe. I pray I get to grow old and pass the land on to my children and one of the things I'm putting in my will is that the trees are NEVER to be cut down unless there is a really, really good reason!! Yes, the Earth has a voice, but many don't want to listen, many don't care, many don't give a large hoot about ecology or the trees or animals. But I'm here to say that I DO! I love my little 7 acres with all the woodpeckers and blue jays, the redbirds (cardinals) and even the mockingbirds. I absolutely adore seeing the deer early in the morning feeding in the meadow, or the occasional racoon scampering across the field. The armadillos are a pain in the hiney as they dig holes in my yard, but hey, they were here first!!

    When we sit in the backyard early morning or in the evenings, the whole world is atwitter with every beautiful sound you can think of coming from unseen guests: chirps and squwaks and hisses and twitters, frog croaks and coyotes and WIND, oh, the wind!! How the trees talk!!

    Thank you, Heather, and thank you, Alicia! My beautiful 100-year-old oaks are safe here as well as the pines, the muscadine grapes, roses, the cedar and the fruit trees: peaches, pears, cherry and apple. Thanks for caring enough to even mention there is a problem. Each day I pray for the land that is being destroyed as we speak, I pray for a better America and I pray that the Lord will bless us and honor us if we do the right thing. He certainly didn't put us on this gorgeous place to destroy His gift.

    May the Lord bless and keep you and may His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

  3. So beautiful your place sounds, Michelle...muscadine grapes, roses, cedar...just the names!....thank you...

  4. Heather, my curiosity to discover what a google search of my name might produce I again stumbled upon this, and so glad I am to have done so, because it got me wondering how and if I might begin responding to the unwelcome intruders of my life in the same peaceful way The Hermitage Community responded to the Enbridge Pipeline – in grievance and mourning, but also in recognition and acceptance of my role in the matter, and with hopes that ‘from death comes life’. I wish you wellness and strength in these days. Shine on, my friend!


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