My heart climbs down from the mountains

Everyone comes to the passionate fight against fossil fuels from a place of the heart.

Of course, my reading, scientific study and my visits to places devastated by fracking and off-shore drilling, as well as my listening to people deeply engaged in preventing pipelines has led me into action – the easy click of a petition, the deeper commitment of picket line or protest, and even the much more anxiety-producing (to an introvert like me) willingness to speak out in public.

But my heart rather than my eyes weep at the devastations of mountaintop removal coal mining. My father’s people are from the hills of Appalachia. Often he would say how glad he was that his Daddy ran the general store, while the fathers all of his friends died young from going down the mines. Members of my family who are still in those hills are at even greater health risk now, not to speak of the loss of income and the destruction, permanent destruction, of the land and its creatures and its beauty. This place is the District Twelve of the Hunger Games. This is the region where somehow generations-old poverty is deemed acceptable by people from other parts of the country.

Out of these sorrows my passion for the work of 350 grows; from these dangers and losses I come heart-full to a whole range of issues involving fossil fuels.

I am a clergy person and this is my improvisation on Psalm 121 for mountain top removal coal mining for people of all faiths…

We lift up our eyes to the mountains

for they need our help.

Their help comes from the Creator

of every faith, every people

who makes the streams and forests,

but also their help comes from us.

We will not suffer the peaks

to be exploded for coal

We will not slumber while overburden

is cast into the valleys.

Those who care will not slumber

while topsoil is stripped

nor sleep while the habitat of children

and wildlife is destroyed.

We are made keepers —

of creation and community.

The wind blows for clean energy

and we can create jobs to harness it.

The air will not be polluted by day

nor waterways poisoned by night.

We can preserve Appalachia

from the devastation of its culture,

and its foothills from flood.

And then the Spirit of holiness

trusted by every faith

will keep these mountains

from the birdsong of dawn

to sunset of bear and fox,

from this time forth and forevermore.


Maren C. Tirabassi is an author and United Church of Christ pastor. Her most recent titles are The Shakespeare Reader and Other Christmas Stories and From the Psalms to the Cloud — Connecting with the Digital Age.