Moved by the same love: a reflection on spirituality and mission

The proposed Bluegrass chemical pipeline provides the context for this reflection.

Visit stopbluegrasspipeline.us for more information and to sign the petition.


by Susan Classen

July 12, 2013 has become a milestone in my life.  That’s the day a representative from the Williams Corporation came to the Motherhouse seeking permission to survey Loretto land for a pipeline. Consequently, it’s the day I came to realize the significant difference between solidarity from within and solidarity from without.  Let me back up and explain.

In June, news of a proposed pipeline through Kentucky began to spread.  Initial reports indicated that the Bluegrass pipeline was to pass through neighboring Washington and Nelson counties so many Motherhouse community members began closely following developments.  Facts are appalling.  We learned that the pipeline is to hold highly toxic, explosive chemical bi-products of fracking called Natural Gas Liquids (NGL’s) which are to be exported for making plastic.  The pipeline needs to be highly pressurized in order to maintain the gaseous chemicals in liquid state which requires that diesel generators, running 24/7, be placed every 10-30 miles.  We’ve read timelines of explosions and contamination caused by flagrant safety violations and statistics of the high speed with which contamination runs through the porous, unstable limestone of Kentucky geology.

And then the pipeline representative came to the Motherhouse.  This was no longer an issue facing neighboring counties.  This was about Loretto and Loretto’s sacred land.  “How dare they?”  Outrage is welling up from a deep, visceral place within me.  Reflecting on my response, I wrote:

I think I’m experiencing the difference between solidarity from without and solidarity from within.  This isn’t me standing with someone else who is the victim of corporate greed.  This is us and the land entrusted to us that the corporation thinks can be gobbled up at will.  Outrage fueled by love is what radicalizes people and makes activists out of mothers and grandmothers and coal miners and farmers.  They are moved by the same love that is moving me.

Perhaps I’m experiencing what Cynthia Bourgeault meant when she wrote this statement regarding Jesus’ familiar teaching about loving our neighbor as ourselves.  “We hear ‘love your neighbor as much as yourself’…  If you listen closely to Jesus’s teaching however, there is no “as much as” in there.  It’s just “Love your neighbor as yourself”—as a continuation of your very own being.  It’s a complete seeing that your neighbor is you.”

My neighbor is me.  The love that moves my neighbor is the love that moves through me, through Loretto, through all those working for justice.  Solidarity is more than standing on the outside reaching in towards my neighbor.  It is a recognition that my neighbor and I are standing together within the love that moves the universe and that same love manifests in us together as passion for justice.