by Patrick Cage
Today was glorious. Within an hour of leaving the church in Dalton, we were outside the reach of Town, walking a country road among rolling hills of hemlock and white pine. The sense of spring was definite in the lighthearted birdsong, pleasant conversation, and our constant shedding of layers. For the first time in months, I breathed full, fresh air, and felt I was back in the land, away from the strip malls and neon signs that can seem so omnipresent.
Just before setting out, during morning Quaker worship, our host Sue Barnes, spoke from amidst the silence, “I feel so blessed to have just shared breakfast with you all on the day our Lord shared the Last Supper with his disciples.” The joy behind these words warmed me, yet the depth of her analogy cut to my heart. On this pilgrimage, we gather in sweet fellowship while we grieve an unnecessary pipeline that may well be built, threatening the lives of all those in the future. Two millennia previously, the twelve disciples gathered a final time with their friend and spiritual teacher, also blessed by the hospitality of a stranger’s table, uncertain about the future, but well aware that Jesus’ actions in the temple would not be without retribution.
Our Maundy Thursday has been wonderful, a day to savor. The sun has warmed our backs, and the conversation has flowed from faith to carbon taxes and everything in between. I learned to distinguish a yellow birch from a paper birch, and heard a lewd joke about tree species in the process.
With plenty of daylight remaining, we have been welcomed to the Nine Mountain retreat center, a beautiful spot in the woods of Plainfield. They have an obvious distaste for the Northeast Energy Direct given their table of anti-pipeline literature and buttons featuring a toad with bulging eyes and the caption, “Please keep pipelines out of my home.” The smell of roasting vegetables wafts throughout the house, colorful tapestries adorn the walls, and (my personal favorite) a hot tub awaits us outside. We are comfortable, warm, and safe, and the sounds of fellowship and live piano drift up the stairwell.
Today has been ideal in so many ways, a blessing for us all. I meditate on what we are walking for, and contemplate how we, like the disciples at the Last Supper, might rejoice in what we are given, and yet not, like the disciples that night in Jerusalem, make the grave mistake of falling asleep in the garden.
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