Praying with our legs: on pilgrimage against fracked gas

Praying with our legs: on pilgrimage against fracked gas

When you start to do the research, you realize that basically nobody outside the Kinder Morgan boardroom wants this pipeline.

You might be an affected landowner dismayed at the surveyors in your yard, knowing the health risks and falling property values that a pipeline brings. You could be a climate hawk, aware that natural gas is a hesitation and not an answer to climate change. Maybe you are a conservationist, repulsed by the scar the pipeline cuts into forests under preserve, or a citizen alarmed by the toll fracking takes on rural communities in Pennsylvania. Perhaps you are a local troubled by the risk of gas leaks or explosions, or another Massachusetts taxpayer incensed at Kinder Morgan's attempt to pass their pipeline’s several billion dollar price tag to ratepayers, despite the fact that most of the gas is for export.

These pipes have such an ecosystem of problems that the campaign growing to oppose them is one of the most exciting frontiers of climate action in New England. Pipeline opposition brings folks of different stripes together, just as faith can.

And it is this story of unity that has me so enthused to join the upcoming Pipeline Pilgrimage, a faith-based, Quaker-led – and spirit-led – walk along the proposed route of the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline over the first twelve days of April. Organized by Jay O’Hara (of lobster boat notoriety), Meg Klepack, and the Young Adult Friends, the pilgrims will be staying at churches and retreat centers as they walk the 150-mile route through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, coordinated in part by yours truly.

I and the other pilgrims will be walking in Easter Hope, led by the light of faith to face the terrible consequences of infrastructure that entrenches our fossil fuel dependence. As we stride along forests and properties that NED may soon bisect, we strive to stay awake, to watch and pray as Jesus bid his disciples in Gethsemane, reflecting on both complicity and possibility. As we cross streams and streets that may soon blanket a rasping pipeline, as we breathe air that will cradle the methane these pipes leak, we take up Rabbi Heschel’s much-beloved take on religious social justice: “When I marched in Selma, I felt my legs were praying.” On this pilgrimage, we will use our legs to pray for change, for a reasonable course of action on climate. We do this as pilgrims who, in Jay’s words, “can do no other.”

I hope you will join me in this literal climate movement, as I post to the MACUCC Climate Action blog, and provide regular updates on Twitter at #pipelinepilgrimage. See more about the pilgrimage at, or contact me at if you would like to get involved. 

(Read all of Patricks' blog posts from the road here)


Patrick Cage

Patrick Cage served as environmental intern at the Massachusetts Conference, UCC for six months in early 2015.  He is a recent graduate of Yale College where he was an environmental studies major with a concentration in religion and the environment,

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