Day 8: babies bearing witness

The presence of infants and children has been an unexpected delight, lightening our steps throughout the pilgrimage. We had a baby brigade for our walk today, two-month-old Fox and four-month-old Juniper, bundled in blankets over their home-knit gnomish duds. Now, as I begin to draft this during downtime prior to our community potluck, I see other young children accompanying their parents into the glowing pine atmosphere of the Windblown Ski Lodge.

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The baby brigade! Juniper with her mom, Hannah, and Fox with his dad, Craig.

With us, these babies are bearing witness. They bear witness to the risk of this pipeline, to the community rallying against it, to the rich hospitality boiling down like maple sap into syrup, to our desire to transform ourselves and our society towards a sane course on climate change.

Fundamental to bearing witness is the notion of testimony, as in court. And I wonder now, amidst the warm conversation here in the Lodge, what these burbling babies will say in fifty years about the decisions we made in the era of mass awareness about climate change. Will they laud our bravery and moral integrity? Or will they condemn our nearsightedness, bemoan us for forgetting that we hold the lives of billions in our collective hands?

Two days ago, a nine-month-old joined us in Greenfield. I learned over breakfast that his name was August, though August was not his birth month. And this peculiarity, alongside his vocal ministry of coos and excited squeals during morning worship, led my contemplation.

I feel drained in my arms and neck as I recall the way that his name suddenly thudded into me like a dart thrown into cork. Because we are now, as a world, in a period like the final days of August. Summer is coming to a close, and though the harvest continues for some time, we know that the fall lies ahead, and the winter beyond that.

Words uttered by Jesus before his crucifixion in the Gospel of Luke, “For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

The data is in – there will be a winter with climate change, and by any realistic assessment the way will not be easy. But a coming winter does not mean we consign ourselves to hypothermia, and, besides, we today decide the severity of this winter. We could opt for a freeze on fossil fuel infrastructure and lay our obsessive consumption to fallow. We decide whether to build a strong cabin to insulate many, or a lean-to merely for ourselves. Or, perhaps, we will choose to slog knee-deep in the snowfall, addled, digging barehanded through snow banks to uncover our treasures that the intensifying blizzard will continually submerge.

The understood severity of climate changer means that there will be no endless summer. The transition from a fossil fueled, consumptive world, to a green-and-gold idyll of wind power, farmers markets, and bike lanes for all will not be seamless. This summer may come, but if it does, it will follow winter. For the sake of August, Juniper, and Fox, I hope we might store up our late summer harvest wisely.

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2 thoughts on “Day 8: babies bearing witness

  1. Your getting elegant, not just colorful, in this writing. I’ve been re-touching base with friends from youth – now living in the lovely weather world of California. And seeing pictures on computer/TV of lakes depleted and rivers become trickles and less. Saving some oil and gas in the ground for the coming seasons is a New England conservatism

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