Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Lament Psalm for Refugio Beach and Creek

A Lament Psalm for Refugio Beach and Creek

Dear God, an oil pipeline ruptured this week across Refugio Creek and Beach, near Santa Barbara.  We call it a refuge, but nothing was safe there.  Over 100,000 poison gallons spewed out, fouling stream and plants, killing birds and sea lions, imperiling sea otters and migrating whales.

“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

This is a very present trouble in your refuge, O God.  And we need help!

(I am reposting this piece from four years ago about this oil spill because I am concerned that the president has just ordered expanded oil and gas drilling on the Central Coast.  It’s land based fracking, not ocean oil platforms as in this spill, but still dangerous and unnecessary.  See below for links to the proposal and how to write a comment to the Bureau of Land Management in the next month.)

The conquistadores and the padres gave the name “Refugio” to this creek and beach in honor of Mary, the Lady of Refuge.  Dear God, we know these men weren’t perfectly Christ-like, but they did love His mother.  In their prayers they called on Mary as Healer of the Sick, Consoler of the Sad, and Refuge for Sinners. On old land-grant maps we read “Nuestra Senora de Refugio Peccatorum.” Refugio.

Refuge for our sins.  All of us sinners seek refuge in you, O God.  We can easily name the sins of Big Oil: greed, destruction; they offend your creation.  But it is our whole culture and lifestyle that separate us from you, God

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:2)

Your psalmist says we need not fear, but God, we live and breath in fear.  In our fear we worship convenience and profit.  We accept unsafe pipelines, we consume and drive, we concede power to others.

The earth, the climate is changing, O God.  Help us not to live in fear, help us to shake the world into your realm.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…” (Psalm 46:4)

Your Refugio Creek is not glad today and I imagine neither are you, O God.  Rather you weep.  Many Catholics find comfort in the weeping woman they call Mother of God.  We cry with you God, over your blasphemed sanctuary, your despoiled refuge.

“Come, behold the works of the Lord….
God makes wars to cease, breaks the bow, shatters the spear….
Be still and know I am God.” (Psalm 46:8-10)

Be our refuge and strength, O God.  Keep us safe, make us strong.
On our Blue Theology youth mission trips and adult retreats here in Pacific Grove we give thanks for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a refuge formed 25 years ago expressly to prohibit oil and gas drilling off our coast.  The Refugio Beach is just south of the Sanctuary’s borders, hence coastal oil rigs and pipelines.  I post these Wednesday ocean devotionals here and at

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