Muse in Brief

Ode to the Living Sylvan Land » No Unsacred Place

In my latest post over at No Unsacred Place, I talk about my mixed reactions to the news of the hydro-fracking spill up in northern Pennsylvania last week, and my struggle to stay grounded in my love for the local landscape as a living, holy presence while I confront the injustices and ignorances that cause such saddening destruction. I also highlight some of the inspiring news coming out of local communities in Pennsylvania, where citizens are standing up against pressure from oil and gas companies and working together to protect the lands they love from harmful development:

Local communities are fighting back, resisting the enormous pressure from gas and oil companies (and the politicians they’ve financed into office) to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale deposit that lies beneath nearly two-thirds of the state’s mountains, forests and fields — a “buried treasure” so tempting that those in the natural gas industry have come to refer to Pennsylvania as “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” A disturbing monicker for those of us who live here, who grew up playing at the feet of the Appalachian mountains that span the center of the state, or spent our childhood summers in the rolling meadows and wandering creeks that criss-cross the rural farmland.

For some native Pennsylvanians like myself, whose families worked in the coal mines and steel mills for generations, the dirt and dust of this land is in our very blood and bones. And so too is the sad legacy of environmental destruction and exploitation that has made Pennsylvania one of the ten least green states in the country, despite the idyllic dreams of its founder, the Quaker William Penn who gave these sylvan, wooded lands their name. Even today, there is an on-going struggle and tension between life and livelihood in this area. Drive through central Pennsylvania and you’re bound to come across more than enough billboards advertising “clean coal” and natural gas as the promise for a bright and prosperous future, even as mining accidents that put the lives and health of workers at risk have barely faded from our recent memory. But as the technologies become increasingly invasive and destructive, citizens of Pennsylvania are beginning to wake up to the ecological damage they cause, and to see how livelihood and prosperity rest on very little at all if they do not rest on the health and well-being of the local landscape.

When I first sat down to write this post, I wanted to talk about the horrors of hydraulic fracturing. But although I wanted to talk about the grief and anger that comes with news of the fracking accident last week, I found that I couldn’t talk about it without first talking about the love and devotion from which that rage and sorrow rise.

You can read the full article here.