The Ladders, Then and Now, and Abby and Ellie, October, 2006

It was hard,
the first time,
climbing 25 feet
up our
32-foot extension ladder,
practicing behind
the CCAN building
the Friday before
the Monday action.

Before this action
I had a fear of heights,
perhaps the result
of falling from a pear tree
as a kid,
hitting my head
on a ladder—
on a ladder—
knocked out unconscious,
coming to
on my couch at home
with my dear mother—

My late mother,
my mother who loved me,
who sacrificed for me,
who gave me an example
of what Micah meant
when he said,

“And what does God
require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.”

–With my dear mother
there to take me
to the hospital
for an overnight stay
for my one day’s concussion.

I’ve been afraid
of high places
ever since.

So that first time,
practicing on the ladder,
I needed another emotion
to overcome,
or at least neutralize,
that fear.

And so,
as I climbed up
and climbed down
those 25 feet,
again and again and again,

I thought of Abby,
my four year old niece,
and I thought of Ellie,
her 1 ½ year old sister,
whom I spent a weekend with
two months ago,
a wonderful time watching,
playing and laughing with,
thanks to my father
who organized
a weekend lakeside reunion
for his three children
and their families.

But their world is threatened.

It is an open question,
at best,
if they will have a future
worth living for,
worth living in.

I believe this deeply.

And so I climbed,
rung by rung, over and over,
until my fear
was lessened
so that,
on Monday morning,
as the skies lightened,
and the hour arrived,
I was ready to ascend
to the NOAA ledge.

And for four hours
I felt not scared
but liberated—
almost at home,
where I should be,
with brother Paul Burman,
as underneath us,
and with news helicopters flying overhead,
the drama unfolded.

Where I should be,
where others should be,
if we are to prevent
looming climate catastrophe,

If we are to create
a new and hopeful world.
I believe such a world is possible.

And we cannot let our fears
keep us from doing
what is necessary—
whatever is necessary—
to get to it.

Abby and Ellie,
Children everywhere,
Future generations
Need us now.