They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
By Zoë Tobin Peterson
When I first read this passage my immediate thought was; what holy mountain is Isaiah referring to? It seems like a fairly important thing to know given that he so clearly tells us that nothing will be hurt if destroyed on it. Why has he not told us the name?
Upon deeper inspection, I came to the conclusion that us doesn’t actually matter which specific mountain he is referring to, or if it is even a mountain at all. In God’s eyes, as well as my own, all beings on earth and beyond are holy. All people, animals, plants, and yes, even mountains have holy qualities. What really matters is the message he is trying to convey. A quote I learned not long ago reads: “Stories are the ship that truth sails in”. And I think that it not only pertains to this passage, but the bible as a whole. And while it does not matter what mountain he speaks of, a connection that a good friend pointed out to me is the hurt and destruction currently taking place in Burnaby Mountain.
The first time I remember hearing about the pipeline I was just twelve years old at an environmentally focused camp run by Salal + Cedar. We had just finished a poetry workshop and the leader Amal told us about a protest that was happening around the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Me and my friend Levi wrote spoken word poetry and read it to the National Energy Board hearings panel. We came with signs, banners, and regalia. We were even interviewed by the news. It was an experience I will never forget. But our efforts and the efforts of countless others hasn’t been enough for the government. I’m sixteen now and while I’m more aware of the many complexities of the pipeline, I’m also more aware of the rapid affects of climate change, and the limited time we have to reverse it.
The construction of the trans mountain pipeline scares me to my core. If an oil spill were to occur unretrievable bitumen would sink to the bottom of our waters and wouldn’t be able to be fully cleaned out. It would devastate not only the Fraser, but the people and wildlife who depend on it to sustain themselves. Nobody can know the pain of this project like the Coastal communities that will be affected most.
Amidst this hurt and destruction Isaiah gives us hope; he gives us a solution. He says: for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Ironic isn’t? That the waters he speaks of are the very thing in danger? Nevertheless, he gives us a solution, and a simple one at that. Knowledge. More notably widespread knowledge.
This knowledge must be widely available, accessible, and comprehensive. A deep understanding of the possible impacts of a likely oil spill should be reached. Especially among those of us with seemingly no power. The world isn’t going to change if nobody knows it has to.
Zoë Tobin Peterson is a high school student of mixed European and Mi’kmaq descent who lives on Coast Salish Territory, East Vancouver. Zoe works for climate justice through activism and volunteer conservation projects and spent her summer as a junior staff person with Salal + Cedar’s environmental leadership program, Sacred Earth Camp.
Wild Lectionary is a weekly blog on ecological justice themes in the revised common lectionary, curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territory.