We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Releasing "Enemy"; Taking Hold of Love

My mind races in a myriad of directions as I consider the readings from Session Two of the JustFaith module on torture; as I look back over my notes, contemplate the words, the people behind the words, all that remains unspoken and unbearable. In an attempt to organize my thoughts, I will begin with the end – the stories – and work back to the start – the encyclicals, etc.

In, “Argentine Mothers of the Disappeared,” the author concludes writing, “There is no doubt that today many families…who have had their loved ones disappeared into clandestine detention through the extraordinary rendition processes in the post 9/11 war on terrorism must be looking at the example and struggle of the Argentine Madres. Their legacy therefore is vibrant and may have even more global relevance today than in Argentina 30 years ago.”

After so much reading about torture and disappearances occurring in other areas of the world, South and Central America, Asia, etc., I was grateful for (albeit saddened by) these words that offer a reminder that torture and disappearances are not an “out there in the world” issue. The U.S. not only covers for or sideways supports governments that do these things but is also directly responsible for disappearances, for torture. So what does this mean for us, as supposed agents of this “democratic-republic” (not to mention “agents of nonviolent change”)? How do we respond?

Penny Lernoux, in Cry of the People, recounts the words an interrogator spoke to Fr. Patrick Rice – who had been abused by electric shock, and by accounts of how his friend Fatima, whose screams he could hear, was being tortured all the more because of him – “I am also against violence and for that reason I won’t kill you.” How absurd and sickening those words sound in the context of this account. But it begs the question, what are we talking about when we talk about violence? How do we articulate the depth and breadth of it? When are we letting little things escalate; accommodating, adapting, until we don’t recognize our own culpability, our own evil. I know that Marie has already written of her, but I cannot help drawing on the clarity of Etty Hillesum’s reflections written during Nazi raids:

“We human beings cause monstrous conditions, but precisely because we cause them, we soon learn to adapt ourselves to them. Only if we become such that we can no longer adapt ourselves, only if, deep inside, we rebel against every kind of evil, will we be able to put a stop to it...while everything in us does not yet scream out in protest, so long will we find ways of adapting ourselves, and the horrors will continue.” (From An Interrupted Life.)

And this brings me to the readings from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These documents that summarize an abundance of theories and experiences of God and humanity and attempt to constrict them to almost comically, constrained words; words that will always be inadequate, but are nevertheless necessary tools to unite and direct our thoughts:

“The deepest element of God’s commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love for every person and the life of every person.”

“All of society should ‘respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life.”

“[We must endeavor] to rediscover the ability to revere and honor ever person.”

And it is this reverence, this respect, and above all this love that ought to always catch us in the moment; that ought to always beg the question of us, am I acting out as I would desire to be acted toward? Am I loving as I would desire to be loved? What does love require? “We are guided and sustained by the law of love.” John Paul II writes. He goes on to say, “[the height of love] is to pray for one’s enemy.” Is prayer the height? I can’t help but believe that it is more than words, more than prayer. Unless it is a prayer that infects and propels our bodies and minds and hearts toward healing, reconciliation, resistance; a prayer that directs our attention to our neighbor and teaches us to shy away even from the mentality of enemy (enemy of who? enemy why?) and to see not only Christ but oneself, one’s most beloved, in everyone.

Forgive me for ending with another Etty quote, I can’t help myself:

“All disasters stem from us. Why is there a war? Perhaps because now and then I might be inclined to snap at my neighbor. Because I and my neighbor and everyone else do not have enough love. Yet we could fight war and all its excrescences by releasing, each day, the love that is shackled inside us, and giving it a chance to live…In any case, we cannot be lax enough in what we demand of others and strict enough in what we demand of ourselves.”

May we always forgive, but never excuse ourselves when we fail to love our neighbors as ourselves. And with that, remembering always the lesson of the “good Samaritan,” that is, that it is not for us to decide who is and isn’t a neighbor, but to be a neighbor to whomever we may encounter.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kai-ros, what is that again?

L’Odyssēe d’Astērix is a child’s tale, an adventure story and a graphic novel that portrays in one character, Obélix, a simple-minded man of superhuman strength. His gift to his companion Astērix is this strength, useful in their odyssey especially when they must quell strife in Egypt and escape with their well-being intact. The quick thinking and superior speed of Astērix combines with the power of Obélix to carry away the day, so to speak—these are the heroes after all.

A tale like this reminds us of the virtues of teamwork even when we possess as individuals gifts of extraordinary measure. It serves us during Advent as a further reminder. We might forget during the ordinary calendar year of the true measure of our lives, for instance. As opposed to chronos, when we turn our attention to the lessons of Advent and our mind expects kairos, this means we look forward to the inbreaking presence of God in our lives. The extraordinary measure of our lives as Christians ultimately is the sacred, that which we most treasure: Christ. So Advent means looking up from our lives to the Christ, that measure of God we do know. It means considering the extraordinary gift that God has offered us and it means to acknowledge how, like in L’Odyssēe d’Astērix, we could only have arrived in this present moment through the mysterious and powerful effort of Christ.

Visualization: A Start for an Advent Meditation

Let’s imagine that we’re seated in a comfortable room and the atmosphere given by dim lights and candles have subdued our hurried minds, our breath has slowed, softened, and each of us with our pose settled, relaxed, has begun to consider an imaginary landscape. We have closed our eyes. Cold sand massages our feet and a lake’s wave reaches up to our toes. Our inner eyes spread upon the lake’s horizon along the front of dark green pines on the lake’s far shore. The distant panorama of green stretches up to our left into a peak until past the timber line the brittle earth emerges to point at the sun. It floats above in a cloudless sky. The suns rays warm us through our t-shirt and jeans. The mildest breeze softly brushes our hair. We feel safe and calm at the water’s edge. As we look toward the sky with our eyes closed, we can feel its warmth almost inviting us upward off our feet, but the invitation is unexpected: really? Could we really float upward and into the sky? Oh, but we want to. We wish the sun could envelop us in its safe round rays. We would even like to dissolve into the light, and just be totally radiant for awhile.

I would like to imagine now that we have a shawl wrapped around us. It is ragged from age and smells of mothballs. It hangs heavily on our shoulders. It feels a little moist, damp at one corner where it must have accidentally dragged in the water as we waded along the shore. As we contemplate the sun, we could almost feel ourselves lifted; but for the weight of the shawl we would have. Something about this shawl is holding us back. What is it? How can we name it and let it loose, just let it go? Then we could be free! We could float!

Why continue this meditation? Because our loved ones are waiting for us to let go. In Advent we might recognize what holds us back from catching up with our Sunlight, our loved ones. If we are the Christ the world needs now, and our witness remains to be seen, then what is the obstacle, the weighty shawl, that we burden ourselves with?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Lights

Each of the bodies was solemn beneath the light. Two lay on the foot wide benches curled on their sides, a third lay on the cell floor and on this prisoner the light reflected least. The features of this newcomer held on to the light they received from overhead. His eyelids were unconcerned by time and his involuntary posture was limp and his mouth paused ajar. His jaw met squarely at the chin. His voice lay dormant in the darkness of that cave but the pink tongue lacquered the edge of one lip and liberated a streak of saliva. His eyelids fidgeted first, then his tongue retracted. Finally from somewhere deep within him the bow of his abdomen expanded.

He had said, “It’s jail. There’s nothing to do but sleep.”

A sound stirred from the deep; it could have been a vacuum. Dry air rushed over the tongue and past the tonsils, the larynx, and into the furthest pockets of his lungs. It was held there, the air separated from itself, unaware of a movement outside itself, self-absorbed, and it seemed like seventy seven hours of unforgiveness. It became surreal, this subdivision of itself, for inside the sacks that had pocketed the air, it seemed as if little arms reached from the surrounding dark arresting the breath and demanding that it relinquish the luggage it carried, the oxygen had to be given over. These little red Gestapo cells were already ferrying away the boldest of the breath along crammed little flotillas or little train carts destined into the farthest corners of darkness. Few oxygen escaped this scrutiny or the fate within these detention centers.

To all appearances these bodies were inert and still they held hostage the gases invisible about them. Their tongues grew dry from the depleted, stale air, and yet in oblivion they knew nothing of the ongoing deportation that they were complicit in. If they would have any suspicions of guilt later it would come in the faintest flicker of conscience, for they would notice the parched roof of their mouths and want to wet their voices before they could talk again. However, before they could be aware of this even, the strangeness of their bodies would question their sleepiness in the face of the light. When they awoke this would override all other anomalies, the steadfastness of the walls, the ceiling, the cement all around them. Such was long ago decided, made permanent. But more obvious would be the unnaturalness of the lights, forever unblinking false daylight at them, soaking the irises of their eyes and bleaching out their unconsciouness.

Hens in mass egg production get treated this way. In the wild a hen will only begin to lay eggs in spring but agribusiness solved the nature dilemma by imitating the seasons to trick the hens to lay more eggs. First the caged, warehoused hens are fed large quantities of protein. Then, in emulation of winter, the lights of the warehouse are dimmed and the hens are fed nothing for two weeks. Next, the hens resumed regular feeding and the lights are now on twenty-four hours a day. Its biological process manipulated, the hen now begins to produce eggs.

Be the Magi you wish for

“We are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as human beings.” Malcom X spoke these words in New York City on April 8th, 1964 and I hear him speaking to me today. Only a few days ago on my way home from Georgia I stopped in Nashville during a four hour Greyhound layover. I wandered up capitol hill where I stood perched on the high ground overlooking the occupy movement in Legislative Plaza. The stone marker before me bore a plaque in memoriam to the horrors of the middle passage. It recounted the woe of a hundred million captured Africans bound below decks by the hundreds. Half died during the voyage, couped up, flesh rotting in chains, stricken by disease and perishing of famine.

Grounds for Empathy

My vantage point was increased having come up from Tyrell County, Georgia where I was jailed for resisting immigrant detention and deportation, held on charges of criminal trespass at Stewart Detention Center, our nation’s largest immigration detention center. Anton Flores, lead organizer for the rally and march on SDC and former prisoner of conscience, bailed me out after three days. On our drive to his home he repeated a radio announcer’s description, saying, “Tyrell County, if you remember, was known during the civil rights era as ‘Terrible Tyrell’ for its flagrant racist hate.”

It struck me there on capitol hill that this monument stood also for the brothers today facing deportation, the mothers and daughters separated, and it stood also for the cause to question all imprisonment. Because peoples imprisoned today remain subjects of sale. Under the 13th amendment to the Constitution prisoners are property of the government. I personally experienced forced labor earlier this year and couldn’t in conscience tolerate it.

A Flashback

Why are they doing this to us, I asked. We were on “Con Air” making passage from Oklahoma to various parts of the country. I was destined for Seattle, though I didn’t know it, and was separated with others when we landed in Las Vegas. It was a Friday morning. Rather than continue the journey we had stopped and now a party of us were given into the custody of Pahrump County Detention Center run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). On Tuesday the journey resumed, but not after the CCA, a privately owned company with public shares sold on the stock market, had booked us and included us on their list showing the Congress why they should be allocated so many funds a year in contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Hallucinagenic really, the bright lights of experience, and I couldn’t believe the trip I was on.

But standing remote now and in possession of my rights of citizen on that prominent ground, I saw the Occupy movement down below with eyes of hope. After all it is the gift of this movement that awakens so many of us to the possibility that comes with our unified and resolute no to the profit schemes subjugating the 99%. NO! to the violation of our positive values, our hopes and dreams for true democracy.

The timing of an insight is sometimes everything.

It was the week of Thanksgiving, of Black Friday and as I write this—Sabbath for the first Sunday of Advent. The plaque before me suggested a revision of my sense of history. If we could all surrender our sense of context once again to re-vision the middle passage’s closing chapter in 1865 to four hundred years man on man profit-making. If this Advent the coming of Christ we look for in and through our stand with the Occupy movement could be another memorial, another closing chapter remembered by future generations. The question is if we will have anything to do with it. Some will make new years resolutions and still be handed a rewards card from the Marriot that reads “Welcome Back Elite Member”. Others will place themselves into the Gospel and renew their understanding of history, and will see the road tread by Jesus to Jerusalem. Given the perspective one will see a capitol hill and another, the mound of Golgotha.

Meanwhile, Advent to Kairos Chicago...

It is a time of preparation for our fast and witness against torture. If we have a task this advent it begins in revisioning ourselves significant, powerful witnesses. I think of us as the journeying Magi bearing gifts for the Christ child. If we preach the cross even now it shouldn’t be surprising, for even Frankincense, used to prepare a corpse for the tomb, was a royal gift. Look to the Frankincense of your experience then, fellow travelers, and renew a commitment to a belief in redemptive suffering.

We must follow the guiding lights of nonviolence, always, though they lead us to Nazareth and all tell us “What good ever came out of Nazareth?” or what good does fasting do, or civil disobedience, or occupying a street corner? As Malcom X came to realize, ordinary human beings would have to act with boldness on behalf of unrecognized dehumanized beings: “It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.” New York City, 19 February 1965

Sunday, October 23, 2011

the occupation is not leaving

Last night, I spent some time with the Occupy Chicago movement.

Why did I join them?

... I think this movement is a concrete step to re-assert the voice of the common good in the discourse of our country

... I hope that the 10/22 action: "creating a space... where real democracy is possible," marks a transition from outrage to creativity

... I want to be a part of that journey

I thought I would take a few minutes to post some observations as an eyewitness to history last night. I will include some links to stories and media provided by others, to add perspective, but like any movement, the occupation is to be experienced, not observed. Nevertheless, as activists, we need to claim our story, so here is some of it:

7pm, 10/22

Crowd gathers @ Jackson & LaSalle, estimated by CPD to be as many as 3,000 people. Biggest crowd I have seen in 29 days of occupation. Spirit of anticipation and courage among the crowd.


Protestors swarm Jackson heading east, once we take the street there is no hurry. People as far as eye can see in front of me and behind me, climbing on barricades and light posts to get pictures, police cars block traffic and all intersections. As we cross Wabash, an EL train is pulling out of Adams/Wabash station, driver slows train over Jackson, waves and thumbs up to the crowd.


CPD horses meet us at Jackson & Michigan, crowd enters Grant Park, confined to sidewalk, and thousand converge on the plaza where we intend to “set up a permanent community, in the hope of creating a space where constructive debate and real democracy is possible.” The intersection of Michigan & Congress, “Liberation Square,” is Occupy Chicago’s intended location for an ongoing presence, which has been denied by the city. Must-see video from one of the most remarkable moments of the night: http://youtu.be/5yKyICPJOKc Keep in mind, this began as 7 people sitting in front of the Federal Reserve!?


Occupiers flock to the Bowman Statue chanting “take the horse!” (see previous video, chant begins at 2:22) conjuring images of 1968: http://youtu.be/DqdM87_Lmv4 CPD wagons already parked ominously on the south and west side of the plaza.


Open mic begins for representatives of unions, students, and other groups/individuals with the coalition. Most moving were a Hyatt hotel employee seeking living wage and a mental health patient denouncing cut backs in services.


People begin to pitch a tent, way in the front of the crowd out of sight from the street (or so we thought), almost immediately, 25 police dart through the crowd for what feels like a premature and unwarranted confrontation. Movement is momentarily confused, tense showdown, mic is silent, then calling for legal help. Some begin to chant. People take down the tent, Police eventually leave, situation diffused. Ten minutes later, they re-assembled the tent, and I helped pitch another one.


I had left for a bite to eat and a bathroom break, my friends headed home. Out of curiosity, I return to the plaza where only a couple hundred people remain. Situation seems very tense and uncertain… police show up with bike racks, pushing folks towards the sidewalk, organizers form into a picket line. I’m not sure what’s happening, but I notice a crowd now across the street on the west side of Michigan Ave. I assume that an arrest warning has been issued. Turns out, park curfew is 11pm. I’m in the arrest zone! I fled out the north side of the park, asking cops what’s going on, “there have already been plenty of warnings.”


Cook County sheriff buses arrive and park on Michigan Ave both curbside lanes and median shut down, but two-lanes of traffic open each way, obstructing views and sounds from across the street. Picket line 200 strong still holding down the west sidewalk of the plaza, over 100 remain within barricade. Over 100 cops onsite, a dozen secure the perimeter with bike racks. Cops are responding differently to the situation, some tapping their feet to music, others bickering with the crowd on both sides of street, mostly just standing around.


Final police warning, all tents have been destroyed/removed except First Aid Tent with 2 nurses inside. Police tell picket line that sidewalk is subject to 11pm curfew. Since sidewalk is not park property, this was basically a lie, but it was repeated over a megaphone, and picketers concede part of the sidewalk to police, allowing more direct path for arrests. Picketers need to keep moving to avoid arrest for blocking sidewalk, even outside of barricade, on west and south side. Cops march into position and enter plaza from the north with zip ties.

midnight, 10/23

Some confusion among the crowd. Some want to move to Thompson Center, others want to stay in solidarity with arrests, some want to start a drum circle and dance, others want to remain solemn with chants… compromise: we stayed and we danced.


I cross Mich Ave to potential arrest zone where picket line has held the perimeter now almost 2 hours. 300 strong on the sidewalk as the arrests begin: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/10/23/occupy-chicago-arrests-in-grant-park/


Pizza delivered to southwest corner of plaza, cops will not allow it past the barricade… we chant “let them eat!” until cops allow pizza to be given to the folks inside. Nurses in tent warned of arrest… we chant “healthcare is a right!” As it turned out, the volunteer nurses were the final 2 arrests, after their tent was taken down by police. Nurses nationwide are calling for a march on Mayor’s Office Monday morning: http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/95152/index.php


One activist asks to cross the barricade voluntarily joining the others. After the police question him crowd chants “let him in!” Activist is informed by police that inciting the crowd would be a felony, he turns to quiet the crowd and diffuse the situation. I did not see if he made it in after all.


Arrests continue. One of the loudest chants of the night: “Why would you arrest us? We’re fighting for your pension!” followed by “YOU are the 99%”


Moment of silence for the death of free speech in Congress Plaza. As arrests continue, this was incredibly surreal… the only quiet moment of the night.


Nurses arrested. I’m home, asleep.


I bike from church to Jackson & LaSalle, where occupiers are holding the sidewalk for Day 30. They tell me nobody has been released from prison yet.


At the CPD District #1 station @ 18th & State, I find a couple dozen activists on the sidewalk with a bunch of snack food and 4 news crews. As I watched roughly 20 protesters were released in small groups over 2 hours. There was major concerns that the desk sergeant was not accepting bail payments for at least 2 activists who had now been arrested for the second night, claiming they would have to spend a second night in jail, and see a judge on Monday. The social media blitz has been underway all day trying to get attention for the treatment of our friends in jail.

overnight + all-day, reports from prison:


“One of the holding cells with about 30 men had no working sink. Their requests were ignored for 5 to 6 hours....An epileptic girl needed her meds. We yelled for an hour before anyone came and then they ignored for another hour....We yelled for about sixteen hours to make a phonecall before they finally let some of us...This protester asked different police officers 86 times politely to make a phone call. Ignored all night.....

"We were given no food until noon today after yelling for hours they gave us a bologna sandwich.....Most of those of us who were in jail were not even allowed a phone call even though we asked for one repeatedly.....Two of the people who did get a phonecall report that the bondsmen were playing videogames instead of working on our paperwork....None of the men were given toilet paper for the past twenty hours."

Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel 312-744-5000

Governor, Pat Quinn 217-782-0244

CPD District #1 Direct Line: 312-745-4290

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Picnic

I want my life

To run direct into your embrace,

Not turning aside

Until I am hidden in the safety of your gaze.

Augustine, Confessions 13.8.9

One afternoon while I was at a halfway house I received a surprise visit from Frank. Per usual, I had my head in a book when the loudspeaker on my floor blared, “Resident Christopher Spicer, please come to the 105 desk. You have a visitor.” I shook my head out of the rural world of William Faulkner. “Room 408, please come to the 1-0-5, immediately.” As I spun off the bed Light in August flung out of my hands, and was replaced by the doorknob. I turned the corner like I was the emergency exit route bolted on the back of the door and whirled down the red stairs two at a time. I had no idea who had come and it didn’t matter; someone had come to visit me.

At the front desk a stern staff member reminded us that it wasn’t my official visiting day but was resigned to give us fifteen minutes to talk. Frank’s face, for whatever arrangements he had made in sacrifice, showed no sign of disappointment. His sunny disposition brought relief and it lingered with me even as I climbed the stairs back to my hermitage. I looked out my window at Sears Tower anticipating our next meeting Sunday when I had a two-hour, release pass to attend church.

Come time, I stepped out of the Salvation Army residence. Wearing a tan collared shirt embroidered Engineers Without Borders, Frank was waiting for me in the parking lot with the engine running. “Instead of finding some café,” he said checking his watch, “I made breakfast. We can eat in the park before Mass.” The Volvo interior was a contrast to the caged buses of the Bureau of Prisons; I wasn’t handcuffed; and in cup holders within reach, two berry smoothies sweat condensation. “That’s for starters.”

Who does this?

A twinge of guilt suspended my delight. I felt bold trespassing the hour fast, custom before communion. On the other hand, his preparation was touching me to the core. He rebutted my thanks with, “I’m a Catholic Worker and visiting the prisoner is in our creed.” Minutes later, sitting with a view of yoga practitioners limbering up on a grassy knoll, I watched as he pulled out from sealed Tupperware homemade pancakes still steaming, real butter and hot syrup, then blueberries and fresh sliced plums. It was the first time in six months I held plates in my hands and real silverware; and only beginning to enjoy sunlight for the fifth time in the fifth month, the picnic scene was like outdoor dining at a four star country club.

Frank consecrated our meal with prayer centering us in the Easter season. Bigger than the both of us, something larger than a visit or even a work of mercy was happening; we were celebrating a resurrection meal. And during seconds, I learned Frank had planned one more surprise: Friends would meet us at Mass.

Monday, August 15, 2011

a traveler's prayer

Dear Spirit on the Move,
Tent of Covenant,
Desert of Faithfulness,

Be with me in the packings and unpackings of my life:
Packing bags with tools for journey
Packing weeks with invitations for love
Packing initiative with dreams of unity
Packing conversations with glimpses of authenticity
Packing prayer with surrender to peace.

Grant that I may never seek so much to be gone as to stay;
To attract attention as to offer presence;
To evade as to abide.

May my life continue to be an unpacking of the mysteries that await in the adventure of inward movement towards outward solidarity alongside the reluctant strangers and holy companions with whom I am graced to exchange hospitality.

Be not far from me, as my travels and trials become chapters of the biography of my homecoming to where I've been -- in You -- all along.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Nuclear Resisters-Michael Walli

This letter comes from Michael Walli, jailed until sentencing after 5/10/11 federal conviction for trespass at Y12 nuclear weapons complex, 7/5/2010.

[Written on Pax Christi Card with Jubilee Pledge and Prayer]

Variety is the Spice of Life/But make sure Jesus is your Spicer…May the Holy Spirit of Jesus Indwell in you!

Jubilee Pledge

As disciples of Jesus in the new millennium,

I/We pledge to:

PRAY regularly for greater justice and peace.

LEARN more about Catholic social teaching and its call to protect human life, stand with the poor, and care for creation.

REACH across boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, gender and disabling conditions.

LIVE justly in family life, school, work, the market-place, and the political arena.

SERVE those who are poor and vulnerable, sharing more time and talent.

GIVE more generously to those in need at home and abroad.

ADVOCATE for public policies that protect human life, promote human dignity, preserve God’s creation and build peace.

ENCOURAGE others to work for greater charity, justice and peace.

Prayer to Become Jubilee People

Father of Time, Mother of Creation, we thank you for the gift of Jubilee that sanctifies both time and space. During this Great Jubilee at the dawn of the new millennium, teach us the wisdom of Sabbath rest for your earth and for the land of ourselves.

Teach us the wisdom of forgiveness of debts for those who cannot pay and for those we refuse to release. Teach us the wisdom of Jubilee justice to remind us that all we have belongs to you and to ensure that everyone has enough.

Teach us the wisdom of Jubilee liberation that we might free those who are oppressed and languish in captivity.

Strengthen our families, parishes, church and nation that we might truly become Jubilee people.


[Handwritten verses are numbered by the author. Margin inserts signaled by ^]

^*New York=Empire State

^*Georgia=Empire State of the South


  1. Fight school violence
  2. We’re on the $kid$
  3. Careful what you teach our kids
  4. The three Rs are OK and ABC
  5. But Keep out the horror$ of ROTC
  6. King George III thi$?
  7. George Wa$hington that?
  8. A que$tion of changing
  9. An empire hat*
  10. The US had it$ Goerge$ Three
  11. God $ave the people
  12. From crazed monarchy
  13. Tippecanoe and Tyler too?
  14. Antichri$t warmonger$
  15. Bring $orrow to you
  16. Remember the Alamo?
  17. That happened a century
  18. And a half ago
  19. And gave U$ half
  20. Of Mexico
  21. That inspired the Fuhrer
  22. To $hriek “lieben$room”!
  23. And kept the gun$ going
  24. Boom! Boom! Boom!

^”Western democracies as they function today are diluted forms of Nazism or fascism.” –Mohandas Koramchand Gandhi










I slept and I dreamed

That life is all joy

I woke and I saw

That life is all service

I served and I saw

That service is joy

--by Rabindranath Tagore, Early 20th Century Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

^”Without sacrifice there is no love” –Saint Maimilian Kolbe OFM

[Page 2]

  1. Refurbi$h Civil War $tatuary?*
  2. Better to have a
  3. Frontal lobotomy
  4. Reenactor$ of Yorktown
  5. Getty$burg and Bull Run
  6. Have a wor$e diploma
  7. Than tho$e who run
  8. Before the bull$ at Pamplona
  9. Remember the Maine?
  10. Give$ all of U$ pain
  11. Guam The Philippine$
  12. The Virgin Island$ Puerto Rico
  13. Guantanamo
  14. Remember Queen Lililukalani?
  15. How the Hawaiian$ lo$t Hawaii?
  16. That wa$ a Fine Aloha
  17. How do ya do ya?
  18. The war to end war$?
  19. Million$ of dead?
  20. The blood in the ground
  21. Make$ the poppie$ $o red
  22. Remember Pearl Harbor?
  23. Take a bath
  24. Let not the $un $ink down
  25. On your wrath

^”Nationalism is the childhood disease of the human race—it is the measles of mankind.”—Albert Einstein

^*Use the resources for the living who need it

^The Northerners call the 2 Civil War Battles in Loudoun County Virginia Bull Run. The Southerners call them Manasses. The ungodly heathens have costly reenactments to help them remember the carnage inspired by Satan. Why go to Pamplona to see the bulls run when you can go to Loudoun County and see 2 legged man asses?

Over 600,000 people died in the US Civil War. The mostly Christ confessing politicians and clergymen of the land did not prevent it. Those who fought the war and died as a result of the war were mostly Christ confessing and yet they did not resolve their differences according to Jesus’ New Testament.

^”Blessed are those who block their ears about the ‘news’ of evil communicated for profit.”

[Page 3]

  1. Land$lide Lyndon
  2. $tretched the truth a bit
  3. Hi$ Tonkin Gulf attack two
  4. Wa$ a crock of poo poo*
  5. Neither rhyme or rea$on
  6. Wa$ ever hi$ $ea$on
  7. Lady Bird Airline$ Flew the Troup$
  8. Thru all $ort$ of conflict
  9. Of Intere$t legal hoop$
  10. Pu$hing $mart bomb button$
  11. I$ $o unromantic
  12. The warrior$ fly away
  13. Leaving horror$ gigantic
  14. Body bag and war memorial
  15. Growth indu$try
  16. Future$ are up
  17. And will $tay $o until
  18. You find the Holy Grail Cup
  19. We mu$t now pur$ue
  20. The Doctor Kingian Way
  21. Guided mi$$iles and mi$guided men?
  22. They Ju$t do not pay
  23. Remembering $atan Keep$ you blue
  24. Jesus Christ makes all things new
  25. Beware of the pen$ion plan patriot$
  26. With flag$ unfurled
  27. Our citizen$hip is not
  28. of thi$ world

^Store your treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust corrupt or corrode it.

^*As proven by existent US Government telephone recordings in national archives custody.

^Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon an Ernest Gruening of Alaska opposed the Tonkin Gulf resolution which illegally “enabled” President Johnson to expand the war in Vietnam/Indo-China. Senator Morse said at the time that the US would come to regret the Tonkin Gulf Resolution

^”We have guided missiles and misguided men.”—Dr. M.L. King Jr.

^”Suffering willingly endured is redemptive”—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

^”Christ will come again, to undo the Antichrist, free the world, the Fatherland of Paradise.” –Saint Peter Chrysologous (450 AD) Doctor of the Church

[Page 3]

  1. Get off the highway
  2. Kingpin commander$ in chief
  3. Jesus is coming
  4. He come$ a$ a thief
  5. Patrioti$m i$ the refuge of a $coundrel*
  6. Don’t buy it! Don’t buy it!
  7. Purcha$er$ can expect their refund$ in hell
  8. For a Christmas tat every tot enjoys
  9. Eradicate all of tho$e helli$h war toy$
  10. Capitali$t$ Communi$t$ militari$ts nationalist$
  11. $atan $upplie$ their good$
  12. Evict the$e na$ty element$
  13. From all earth’$ neighborhood$
  14. From the tomb$ of the unknown
  15. Come a unifying voice
  16. Make obedience to God
  17. Your full armory of choice
  18. When you ring out your freedom
  19. As God’s children quite well
  20. The belfry$ altogether
  21. Will truly $ound Nobel

99. $atan with thy arm$ contract

100. Mammon be $purned

101. $tay wrapped up in Jesus

  1. And you won’t be burned
  2. Budgetary billion$ militarizing $pac
  3. Expo$e$ to the public
  4. $atan’$ ugly Face

^”Property owned communally is holy.” –Saint Gertrude the Great

^*Saying attributed to Samuel Johnson

^”Blessed are the peace makers for they are the ones who shall be called Children of God.”

^”I have unequivocally declared my opposition to this most colossal of all evils” Dr. King referring to antichrist nuclear weapons

[Page 4]

  1. Jesus Cross of Life
  2. I4 the Path well taken
  3. Leave all other$ totally For$aken
  4. Gandhi had a lot of
  5. Worthy thing$ to $ay
  6. Li$ten to hi$ coun$el$
  7. Or you have hell to pay
  8. (See*insert) The Warlord$ war by war
  9. Rake n multibillion$
  10. Ho hum $ay thee $cum
  11. They’re ma$$acreing civilian$
  12. There is Freedom to choo$e
  13. And it is our lo$$
  14. Until we elect
  15. The Way of the Cross


1. Politic$ without principle

2. Plea$ure without con$cience

3. Wealth without work

4. Knowledge without character

5. Bu$ine$$ without morality

6. $cience without humanity

7. Wor$hip without $acrifice

--Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

^The Sheep at Jesus Judgment are at His Right Hand. The goats at his Left Hand. Goats ilk is the richest Kind of dairy milk.

^Jesus is the Father of the world that is to come.

^Woe to you rich/You have had your reward

^The State of New York is nicknamed “The Empire State”/ The State of Georgia is called “The Empire State of the South”

^Judas betrayed Jesus the Prince of Peace into the hands of the militarists for money while giving Him lip service.

^The US has the hogs share of the many billions of dollars “worth” of military weapons sold each year on the antichrist international military weapons market sowing Satan’s harvest of death.

from Susan Crane

This letter comes from Susan Crane, serving 15 months beginning in 3/28/11 one of the Disarm Now Plowshares group convicted of felony damage to government property, conspiracy and trespass for cutting the fence and entering the nuclear weapons storage area at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, 11/2009. Susan mentions her prayer for the health of Nuclear Resister Jackie Hudson. Jackie died Aug. 3rd. See photo tribute here and Disarm Now Plowshares website for more information.

[Side 1 handwritten]

Hi Chris—Thanks for writing—glad you are out. Steve and Bix made sure I saw you there in the SeaTac visiting room. Thanks for your smiles!

...Have you had a chance to read Archbishop Chullikat’s talk on nuclear disarmament? It’s on the Disarm Now Plowshare website (or a link to it)—if you read it, you’ll want to join us out at Bangor!



[Side 2 typed]

July 25

Thanks for writing to me. I’ve been noticing that several letters arrive weeks after the postmark. Letters from Oakland that should take a day or two are given to me more than two weeks later. Apparently the mail room is a bit behind.

A couple of conversations have stayed in my mind recently. One was with the staff person in the laundry room. I had to go there to get my pants sewed up. The staff person recognized me as having been [t]here before, and asked why I was here. I said that I had been part of a peace action, and she said, in a discouraged voice, “there is no peace.”

Always looking for common ground I agreed. She continued: There won’t be any peace until there aren’t any starving people.

Had to agree again…we know that without justice, which includes some sort of fair distribution of resources, there won’t be peace.

Then I was talking with a young woman here who is just starting work at UNICOR. She has a job in telemarketing. They are selling magazine subscriptions—actually the magazine subscriptions are free, all the person has o do is give email, phone and physical address and they can get these trade magazines.

The woman said that she would do anything for money. She needs money, owes restitution and fines. I was interested in finding the line that she wouldn’t cross in the prusuit [sic] of money. Was there something she’d refuse to do? She was clear that there were no limits on what she would do for money. She would scam older people. Even your grandparents? No (finally, something she wouldn’t do), but other older people were fair game, as she didn’t know them.

Wow. Discouragement and a feeling of hopelessness about the world situation n on the part of some, and a lack of compassion on the part of some others.

I was talking to the Chaplain about how moral dilemmas can be used to teach moral reasoning and build compassion. He suggested that perhaps the Jesuits who come here for Mass could teach a course in ethics.

Right now there are some men in California prisons on hunger strike for better conditions in the SHU [Solitary Housing Unit]. Some have been in solitary for decades.

Everyday when I go outside, feel the breeze, get warmth from the sun, I think about Steve Kelly, SJ and Lynne Greenwald, who are both at SeaTac, and never get to go outside or see the green of a tree or a blade of grass. And I think of the y-12 resisters in the jail, in harsh conditions, and I think of Jackie, struggling for her health.

And of course, I think of the hard work that all of you are doing Keeping communities going, challenging the powers that continue to oppress us all.

I am doing well, still teaching ESL, still staying under the radar, being a good compliant prisoner. Makes me really search my conscience.

As I watch the owls, swallows and hawks fly in and out of the prison, and see the squirrels go through the razor wire and through the double fence, it shouldn’t surprise me that the Spirit moves through the fence and the walls and cement, and brings love and warmth to my heart. Makes me feel very small and humble.

I continue to try to listen to others, find what is good, and find lots to be thankful for.



Susan Crane Reg: 87783-011

Federal Correctional Institution Dublin

5101 8th St. Camp Parks

Dublin, CA 014568

from Lynne Greenwald

This letter comes from Lynne Greenwald, serving six months beginning 3/28/11 one of the Disarm Now Plowshares group convicted of felony damage to government property, conspiracy and trespass for cutting the fence and entering the nuclear weapons storage area at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, 11/2009

31 July 2011


Dear Chris,

What a nice gift, receiving your card this past week! I’m guessing your transition back into the community went well. I understand you’ve been to Central America and are familiar with transitions (did I read this in Nuclear Resister?). Anyway—thank you for your action and willingness to give up your “freedom” for awhile.

Seeing you in the visitation room was also a pleasant surprise, and kept me open to the unexpected here at SeaTac FDC.

I’ve been able to speak to Bix after his release, and to hear frequent updates. Last week a friend sent a photo of him back at Guadalupe House for Tues. night liturgy and dinner. I’m hoping he’s still free when I return home Sept. 9. Regardless, I’m grateful he had a safe journey home.

You may know that Jackie Hudson returned home to WA and is now in the hospital, very ill. She’s now off the respirator and will be starting cancer treatment soon. Although I’m able to keep in touch with Sue Abloo, Ground Zero, and Jackie’s long-time partner, I’m not able to be with them during this difficult time. I’m on the prayer vigil detail now.

I had a wonderful visit yesterday with my daughter, Alissa, her husband and their son. Jack is 1 year now—I’m o happy to have seen his growth over these past months. My oldest daughter will be here in a few weeks and will visit from San Fran. And my son visited the end of May before he started firefighting job with Dept. of Natural Resources.

Knowing how much I have, and how little time I have to serve, keeps me humble. I still receive much more than I could ever give.

Looking forward o returning to the Tacoma Catholic Worker, and my life at the Irma Gary House. I was living at and managing a small transitional house for women getting out of prison. I was under federal probation for a previous trespass charge when I lived there, and I’ll be under “house arrest” at the house for 2 weeks when I get out of FDC. No monitor, just have to check-in at nearby ½ -way house.

One thing about this brief experience, I’m enjoying sending and receiving letters. It’s especially exciting to hear stories of what others are doing to create a peaceful world. Hoping to learn more about your work too. I heard the perfect poem as I walked around the triangle of the upper tier, here in DA. Garrison Keeler on Writers’ Almanac, reading William Blake’s poem “Don’t Believe.” (I think). What sticks with me is the word from Jesus, “Believe.” My day is now filled with the hope and belief that peace is possible and I’m thinking of all those gathering to witness for a world without nuclear weapons this August.

Gabby letter—I guess I’ll slip back into the quicker e-mail habit soon, but hopefully not exclusively.

Take care and Shalom!


Federal Detention Center

Lynne Greenwald

Reg: 40672-086 Unit: DA

P.O. Box 13900

Seattle, WA. 98198-1090

As of Sept. 9:

Lynne Greenwald

Tacoma Catholic Worker

1417 South G. St.

Tacoma, WA 98405

What Comes-A letter from prison

What Comes? What Gives?

How can we mark the period of Aug. 6-9 in mourning for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuclear weapons programming? To begin with, let us remember what is at stake: “One of the great temptations of our age is to view the world and its people and problems as complicated abstractions, remote from our lived daily experiences.”

Patrick McCarthy in “Sharing the Burdens” The Roundtable, Winter 1998

If abstraction requires the anecdote of daily kindnesses and deliberate sacrifices, so the rebuke of temptation requires mindfulness of our friends waging peace. I have received several letters from prisoners of conscience that I will share in the coming days. Maybe one way to mark this period in vigil is to sit with the words of these peacemakers and in our prayer keep them in view. As we feel moved, our community can offer observations of hope in response. For:

“We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread…” Dorothy Day.

This first is from Mark Kenney, serving six months beginning 4/27/11 found guilty of trespass at Offutt AFB, home of the Strategic Command, 8/9/10.


Dear Chris,

Thanks so much for writing and sending the beautiful card. It is almost a year since our action in Omaha last august 9th.

I have plenty of time to pray and fast here. I certainly will be praying for folks gathering at OFFUTT Aug (6-9). I am more than happy to include you in those prayers.

As far as feeling like having “Diseased attachments” and having a heart divided, well, that is truly all of our situation as followers of Christ on earth.

Amazingly enough, Jesus has such confidence in us, to be “wheat among the weeds”; to be non-materialistic among capitalists; to be non-violent among militarists; to be citizens of the kingdom of heaven amidst secular patriotism.

We/I fail over and over in our attempts to live up to the wonderful expectations our Lord has for us.

Fortunately, God is merciful, as we are to be merciful to each other. Jesus knew how incredibly difficult this would be. I beli[e]ve we have to be incredibly forgiving and much more greatful to each other in our weaknesses. For it is the meek who truly inherit the earth. It is truly the poor in spirit who have access to the kingdom of Heaven, we must be forgiving of others over and over. We must allow God to forgive us as we forgive others.

As Pope Benedict XVI express in his book Jesus of Nazareth; “the presence of Christ makes all the difference”. (I may be paraphrasing a bit here).

Peter Maurin always held, that the social teaching of the Church needed to be unleashed. Dorothy Day showed us how to express the heart of the Church through u[n]relenting hospitality.

Maybe you, Chris, can help the Church, the body of Christ; us, bear it’s very soul, by showing us how to be more merciful to each other amidst this terrible canondrum of choices life presents to us.

Sorry, I get a little preachy sometimes. Prison is a wonderful place to pray, reflect, and try to practice what we like to preach.

I wish you and all the folks at the White Rose Catholic Worker all the best. Enjoy the farm. I like to visit the Strangers and Guest Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, IA.

In Christ’s Peace

In Christ’s Solidarity,


Mark Kenney Reg #: 14018-047

Federal Prison Camp

P.O. Box 1000

Duluth, Minnesota 55814

Monday, July 18, 2011

Moses the Migrant

Once upon a time, long ago, in a place far from here, a familiar story unfolded. In this place there was a Ruler and this Ruler’s land was inhabited by people of varying ethnicity. There were those who named themselves “the People” and there were those named “the Others.” The Others were a strong-bodied people who worked hard, bore children and established themselves in the land. In fact, they became so abundant, that the People began to fear they would be overrun by the Others. The fear was so great that the Ruler began to look at the Others as invaders, though they had lived amongst the people for generations. They had, in fact, lived amongst the People so long that the Ruler—who was not a diligent student of history—had forgotten, or perhaps never learned that the Others had actually been invited to the land by a ruler from the past. They had helped sustain the land during a time of need. Now, they were not perceived as an asset but a threat.

In one version of this story, the Ruler is called Pharaoh; the People, Egyptians; the Others, Hebrew. Pharaoh responded to the Hebrew threat by summoning their midwives. “When you are preparing to deliver the babies of Hebrew women,” he commanded them, “you must abort them as they are being born.” The women did not argue. They also did not obey. Noticing that Hebrew babies continued to be born, Pharaoh summoned the midwives once again, “how is it that I continue to see my land overrun by newborn Hebrews?” he demanded. The clever women played helpless, “These Hebrew women, they are so hardy and energetic, they give birth before we even arrive in their homes!” Though the midwives civil disobedience delayed deaths, it did not prevent them. In his desperation, Pharaoh ordered that all male children be killed, even after being born.

Perhaps there were many families whose love and ingenuity compelled them to find ways to preserve the lives of their children. Ancient texts direct our attention to one particular family. And isn’t it often the way that our best education about broad truths comes through a narrow focus, from an individual encounter? The family was of the Levite clan. Though she already had two children, the mother of this family was struck by the beauty of her new child, a son, and she could not bear to see him lose his life even if that meant she could not share in that life with him. This child’s mother and father and brother and sister conspired together. They crafted a basket, carefully waterproofed and padded it. They placed within it this child, one of many born in the land but to them a unique marvel and mystery of creation to whom their hearts were bound. Reverently, with prayers and petitions, they placed the baby-filled basket in the river and hoped for salvation. His sister, Miriam, followed the flow of the river from the bank.

Almost of another world, another daughter ventured along the river bank. Pharaoh’s daughter, she shared the same land with Miriam and the other Hebrew daughters and sons, but knew little of their life. She lived life in a bubble of security. Even now, as she ventured to cool herself in the water of the Nile, a band of attendants followed around her; their presence both an irritation and an expectation, for she knew no life but a sheltered one. Immersing herself in the water this daughter heard a cry. She saw the unusual craft and could guess at its cargo—but how could this be? “Go fetch that basket,” she commanded an attendant. And her attendant obeyed. Opening the lid of the basket, Pharaoh’s daughter caught the spell of wonder that had been laid in the basket with this baby. She recognized love in him and wanted to share it. “I’m going to adopt him,” she said. And she named him Moses.

I imagine this encounter affecting the daughter of Pharaoh not only with compassion, but with curiosity. How did it come to be that this child was set afloat? Perhaps she learned more about the policies directed toward the people inhabiting the land she lived within. I noticed that when Moses grew to adulthood, there were still Hebrew people of his generation—they were not destroyed. Can it be that Pharaoh’s commandment was rescinded? I wonder if that had anything to do with his daughter finding her heart captivated by one Hebrew that led her to advocate, if even in only one small way, for the lives of his people. I wonder if the thought of each Hebrew baby’s death tore at her as though it were the murder of her own child?

The timelessness of this story occurred to me in a new way as I revisited it this week. Experience has a way of tinting the lens through which we look at the world. Where I stand in my interior landscape effects the perspective I have of the exterior, even when I am unaware. This time I was aware that I was reading with a mind toward the immigrants that share the land where I live. Aware that whatever people group we come from, we were all sojourners once. “My people” were primarily Dutch and Irish, welcomed when extra hands were needed, rejected when we became too many and were no longer seen as a resource but as burden on resources that were limited. A threat to familiar ways of being and looking and sounding. I thought of the South and Central American migrants who I’d never given much mind to until I encountered their belongings, abandoned during their troubled sojourn in the Sonoran Desert; until I met them, broken on the border.

Now they people my thoughts and influence my reflections. I have been reading Steinbeck’s account of his journey across America with his dog Charley. There I found that his reflection on the Bad Lands stirred in me reflections similar to those that had been awakened by a tale from ancient Egypt. Once upon a time, not long ago, very close to home…Steinbeck’s experience of the Bad Lands brought back my memories of the contradictory nature of the desert in Arizona that divides the United States and Mexico. Such a monster in the day, so majestic in the evenings. Though I tried to describe it, he says it better:

…the late afternoon changed everything. As the sun angled…the cliffs and sculptured hills and ravines lost their burned and dreadful look and glowed with yellow and rich brown and a hundred variations of red and silver gray, all picked out by streaks of coal black…once stopped I was caught, trapped in color and dazzled by the clarity of the light. Against the descending sun the battlements were dark and clean-lined, while to the east, where the uninhibited light poured slantwise, the strange landscape shouted with color. And the night, far from being frightful, was lovely beyond thought, for the stars were close, and although there was no moon the starlight made a silver glow in the sky. The air cut the nostrils with dry frost…this is one of the few place I have ever seen where the night was friendlier than the day (Travels with Charley, pg. 120).

I found it confounding, trying to reconcile the splendor of the evenings with the treacherous conditions of the day. Similarly, I find it confounding trying to reconcile the juxtaposition of beauty and cruelty in people when we choose, sometimes so arbitrarily who will be bequeathed with our favor, and who will be subject to our wrath. Unlike Moses, the rulers of this land don’t directly threaten migrants with death, but with deportation. Though, considering the hundreds of deaths that occur each year in the desert by those restricted, or returning after being sent back—considering how separation of mothers from children and husbands from wives causes life to leak out from rent hearts—the difference between death and deportation becomes blurry at best.

Who will be the fairytale-type princess in this version of the story? Who will be the unlikely one that bridges the gap between the outcast people and the obstinate ruler? “Encounter” seems to me to be the magic word that breaks the spell of blindness. I think of my own life’s experience; I began to care when my senses and feelings were engaged. I cared about the migrants because I walked their trails and heard their stories. I cared about men in Guantanamo who I’d barely given a second thought to because I saw their picture and heard their stories and read their poems. I was touched by our common humanity. Their pain hurt me. If those of us who are sheltered by the rulers of the land could learn the stories of those who are persecuted, if we would take a few steps beyond our comfort zone, perhaps their cries could stir our heart like the cries of a baby in a basket. Perhaps, if we wade in the water, God will trouble us toward compassion and we will learn the abundance of an interwoven life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Afterglow from the farm

Today I am dizzy and seem to have done nothing. Do you ever have the empty distracted feeling that comes after some experience of total clarity or connection? Yesterday was that day for me when the very sunshine meant utterance direct from God, and the light was everywhere bringing depth and color to all things. I could lay in the catch and swing of the hammock and serenely stare into the green oak leaves and the breeze was my companion soft and caressing.

Today I am checked out in the background as present as I can be. But I wish it were yesterday on the farm again and I were again walking the perimeter for the first time. I would sit down and seem floating on the landscape watching the white shirts bend over the vegetable crop. Or amazed I would want to see the bees in slow motion to track where each buzzes off or back from and I would again want to shrink and squeeze into that hive in curiosity to meet the queen.

My senses seem dull today, off like a faucet, but while there on the land every pore was open wide. I pruned the tomato like a feisty toddler and I mulched the green onion like she were my grandmother. The hay I held crept into my body and possessed me and now I am dry. And wanting.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


On a stroll down F street I tasted flat doctor pepper. I said to myself, Isn’t it interesting? I looked at my thumb hooked into a Burger King paper pint cup and saw no fizz but could complain to no one because this seemed my lot. I had discovered this idle cup five sixths full on a cement ledge of a University Museum and after holding it with my inserted retractable thumb for half a block I determined that sugar water could be invigorating. Though flat it had purpose. I wondered about a mentor soccer coach who used to always shake out the carbonation from a can of pop before he gave it to his kid. This sugar water would be practical, if not unhealthy.

How do we gain trauma mastery? One way seems to be by developing our self-awareness to the degree that we see ourselves without judgment. One practice recommended by Laura Lipsky in Trauma Stewardship: A Guide to Caring for Ourselves as we care for Others is to develop the habit of asking ourselves one simple question: Isn’t it interesting? Meanwhile the Catholic Church marks ordinary time tomorrow with a passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” Hmm. Oh!

And William Hazlitt penned an essay in 1823. Didn’t know that myself until today. I appreciate Norton Anthology so much more now for informing me of this important datum. This Hazlitt fellow was big stuff in his day when he wrote this essay called

My First Acquaintance with Poets. He went on a long walk with Cooleridge twenty-five years earlier, in January 1798, and wrote this by no means pedestrian account in reflection, actually, about how Cooleridge had backslid from his former radicalism.

Isn’t great what you can learn by picking up an abandoned Starbucks cup and following it from whence it came. Lying to the barista in his face, I gained entry into the café for a $0.54 cent refill. I sat down with the Norton uncritically, just noticing my lie: Isn’t it interesting?

Hazlitt also wrote a sublime piece of piled quotations called On Gusto. If I had never seen a Titian painting in Madrid I doubt it could have been so flattering. Sad, I just remembered how the pixel versions taken by my buddy Bernie were one night robbed when we slept out in a Barcelona park despite his having clutched it like a teddy. Gypsy theft in them parks is mighty usual, the Catalan cop seemed to say.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote "Wherever God is, there is Heaven." In The Saints Guide to Happiness Robert Ellsberg suggests that her spirit sought out from the ordinary the memento dei, an awareness of God cultivated at all times and all circumstances. Isn't it...?

I posed as a curious George to ask the Indian couple where little India was. The lady started walking away and said “What you want we don’t know.” Hmm. Oh! Maybe she was Pakistani. Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to ask why the man took a picture of her there at the corner of Ridge and Devon. Was the gas station exceptional?

The rain hasn’t fallen since Friday, eight times twenty four hours ago, and still in the street along Devon a binge of water hasn’t drained. Between two cars floats an article from the Metropolis paper featuring summer films at the park; a subtitle calls out a few goodies from among the rest, or "the pedestrian". There was a familiar photo too. Like an image come together in a dark room, the Spielberg frame most endearing to me as a kid had not yet dissolved: there E.T. still rose into the moon, peddled higher and higher.

And isn’t it interesting, I thought, seeing a sticker saying “This meter remains as a courtesy to bikers.”