living simply to build community

You’ve probably heard the saying: “Live simply so others may simply live.”  Different sources credit the phrase to different wise people, like St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa. Either way, it’s a good mantra and the saying totally carries weight.

Lately a new, yet similar saying has been rattling around in my consciousness:  “Live simply so communities can simply survive.”  It’s not as poetic but I think it’s just as true and powerful. Plus, I made it up (I think) so that adds to its awesomeness. Just kidding!

Anyway, in my recent summer adventures I have been encountering this simplicity truth in a variety of ways. It’s not new stuff to me; I think about it lot.  The circumstances of life, however, just really seem to rub my face in my convictions sometimes.

Last week while I was working with the Peacebuilders Initiative I was blessed to accompany a group of teens on their ministry site visits to the White Rose Catholic Worker here in Chicago.  My friends at the White Rose totally seem like ordinary Christians to me. They dumpster dive, grow and preserve their food, give things away freely, advocate for justice, pray a lot, share everything (including their home with strangers)  and compost and recycle all their waste.  Yet, the teens kept talking about this way of life as foreign to them. It was a reminder to me how my preferred way of life (service combined with sustainability mixed into activism, grounded in good Catholic prayer) is actually quite radical.

Sometimes I forget how my vocation and passions have made me into a counter-cultural creature.  The thing is though, my consciousness doesn’t really make it into an option for me, but a necessity. There’s a fire in my belly that burns me right into action. I live the way I do- and am always seeking to increase my sustainability and simplicity- because it seems to me to be the way we need to live.

When the Peacebuilders and I visited my Catholic Worker friends last week, their community did a really terrific job of organizing programming and hands-on actions in order to help the teens gain an foundational understanding about why people choose to live simply as they do.

One day we watched this video together and discussed how environmentalism is intertwined with Gospel living:

The video left me feeling embarrassed for a variety of reasons.  It feels overwhelmingly inevitable that I cooperate with the systemic injustices related to consumerism. I don’t mean to, I don’t want to. I just seems to happen, I’m sorry.  (I feel like a whiner as I confess this sin, blah!)

But then, I know about alternatives to cooperating with the mainstream.  And I try to choose them as much as possible.  Some of the most basic ways to live simply have to do with food.

My friends at the Catholic Worker House took our Peacebuilder group to their organic farm for some good-old-fashioned labor last week and I was overjoyed (seriously!) to be placing composted manure around plants and weeding veggies.  I was also amazed while I heard the teens say that they had never done anything like it before.   Again, I was reminded that it is sort of a radical thing to grow one’s own food now days.

Then, on Tuesday of this week I was was again doing labor and bonding with Earth.  I helped my sister box up veggies from her farm for her CSA business. As we weeded, harvested, packaged and delivered foods to people in her community I couldn’t help but think the whole thing felt sort of silly- we were working so hard to feed people who also had good land to grow food. My sister echoed my thoughts as we drove around (and wasted fuel) and made deliveries.  She said she’d welcome competition and wishes that CSAs were more ordinary, as it is necessary for us to develop community through local economies. In the same way, I prefer that we’d revert to a culture of neighbors creating hand-made crafts and food for each other. The earth seems to be begging for it.

Let’s do it, Christians.  Let’s free ourselves from bills and material abundance, and live simply so that we are closer to the earth and our neighbors. Let’s build community by sharing in the responsibility of sustainability.  Let’s live life to the fullest and love one another.  The bible tells us to, plus our brothers and sisters far and near need us to help build their communities, not harm them.

As my sister, the farmer, said here, eating food (like all simple actions) is something that connects as a community, no matter where live.   So, let’s connect by living simply. God help us, Amen.

Poems For Corpus Christi

My Daily Bread

 
Will I grow old alone,
a pitied spinster, the dried-up
nun?
 
Can we grow young,
Like the seaside,
when your first
Kiss taught me justice?
 
Elopement
was never much
of an option.
A slow
steady courtship
has made me yours
a thousand times.
 
My wine-soaked heart
My lungs as
Daily bread
 
My sweet
My love
My Jesus
 
 
 

Real

presence
 
can I slip my fingers through yours
one last time, don’t stop,
my Lover has me
all the time
 
blessed, broken
and shared
 
my heart
and your
Body

ugly body

orange over me

upon still solemn sidewalk

silent under black

My breathing quickens.

the truth is too tight:

innocent men are confined

tortured to death

human-inflected trauma

in the name of national security

The cells of my eyes water what my heart holds.

my love, Jesus, tortured by thorns, nails, cross

laments stab while questions weigh on a helpless body

centuries later the crowds still scream crucify

My bones grind and stiffness sets into sore feet and knees.

prayers are uttered into Mary’s ear, as she knows

secrets of torture techniques told

“feels like drowning two hundred times.”

“hanging by wrists for hours, no sleep.”

“humiliation.”

“dogs.”

“darkness.”

“orders.”

My body shudders with shame.

trying to yell NO the over-used too old sign bares challenge:

let it close, it needs to end.

sorrow looks through cloth pores

there, no dignity

here,  fashions rush by wasting fast food, texting into cellular phones

ignoring the pain of the ugly orange body

I don’t understand.

Yesterday,  June 23,  I vigiled with a few other members of Witness Against Torture  on a sidewalk at a busy intersection in Chicago.   I wore an orange jumpsuit and a black hood like the men who are imprisoned at Guantanamo.  (I am the second person from the left in the photo above.)  I stood as a reminder of what tax dollars still pay for.  While I prayed in solidarity for all who suffer because of torture, others answered questions.  And, at the same time, 15 protesters were arrested in Washington DC for disrupting the discussion on the defense bill in the House of Representatives. Today, the day after I had the intense experience of wearing that ugly outfit, Guantanamo is still open. I will never be the same because of what I felt inside that hood.  My prayer and work for justice has deepened.

May God bless all our bodies. Amen.

Holy Relating in the Facebook-Era

I watched The Social Network last night, mainly because I was curious.  Similarly,  I joined Facebook five years ago, shortly after it started and around the same time that I entered my community, because I was curious.  Curiosity is usually what causes me to conform, even if I have mixed feelings or I am not really sure how an action may fit with my Christian living.

The story of the creation of Facebook is very real:  it’s friendships, energy, ideas and passions spiraling around young, talented people in a legalistic, money-driven era.  The true story felt like a visual time-capsule to me, like something that historians and psychologists will be able to study in 50 years when they are trying to make sense of why humans relate as we will then.

The film reminded me that it’s true that organic, creative projects change the world and humanity forever.  This fact echoes my understanding of the Gospel- the call to build the Kingdom that gives me great joy.  In collaborative communities we create change and help people connect more deeply, and it’s really powerful and good.  Plus, the story got me thinking about how relationships can be twisted collisions of trust and distrust, hope, love, faith, confusion and betrayal.  Is that a tragedy?  I am not sure.  This reality seems to fit with the story of Jesus, too.

Nonetheless, I am disturbed.  I have found it fascinating- and frustrating- to participate in the evolution of human relating and communication during the past five years, since Facebook (and now Twitter, etc.) have become as common as eating. (At least for the 8 percent of us on earth who actually have internet connection, I suppose.)

Lately I have tried to be more conscientious about how much I use Facebook, mention Facebook in conversations and hear others talk about Facebook each day.  Naturally then, I was amused at mass this morning when the priest told a story about how he reconnected with an old friend through the internet and Facebook.

I suspect many of us have had similar experiences.  I imagine that a lot of us have found Facebook a helpful tool in fostering relationships and reconnecting with friends.   I have, and it is very exciting.   I appreciate being able to read headlines and see pictures of babies, weddings and ordinary life stuff of people I know with as much ease as reading a newspaper.  This is good, I think, because I believe that relationships are the meaning of life.  We grow in union through communication and communion,  through all of our relating to each other.  In addition, the technology permits a different type of Gospel witness, and this is good.

Nonetheless, I have questions and concerns.  I heard a story about a friend-of-a-friend who learned about the sudden death of her aunt through a Facebook post recently.  I know of other tragic- and joyous- momentous news that has been shared through family and friends exclusively through technology.   I doubt that this is good for our souls and spirits.  When things are deep and meaningful, it doesn’t seem healthy to relate with each other without the raw mess of human emotion, inflection and reflection.

Does it hurt us when we learn about big things in our close friends’ lives at the same time as their other 650 Facebook friends/acquaintances?     Why does it suddenly seem so hard to relate to each other in real, old-fashioned types of ways, like through visits, phone-calls and hand-written letters as we live and love?  Have we lost our human touch?

Certainly, our society has been drastically changed by Facebook technology.  Likewise, the way we relate and communicate has radically shifted.

Is this God’s will for us? Is this what Jesus intended when we were commissioned to build the kingdom?   How does our modern technological communication impact our souls, our freedom, our prayer and our ability to relate to each other as God designed us?

On this Feast of the Holy Trinity, we are blessed with renewed focus on God who is perfect relationship and who is Love and Truth.  In the Trinity we know a love so self-giving and constant that the union changes all creation.  We learn how to Love if we listen in prayer to how God the Parent, God Incarnate and the Holy Spirit relate together as three-in-one.

How did God design us to relate to each other? Since we’re made in God’s image, I believe it’s just like the Trinity.  Let’s love, give, share, care, hold, touch, heal, help, communicate, commune and just be together in the real, raw mess of relational love.

Let’s love each other, in the boundless, eternal non-technological, human ways.  The Bible tells us so:

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.         –  2 Cor 13:11-13


Fascination of the mundane

Guest blogger: Elizabeth Diedrich

“Hola. Hello. How are you?” For the past two years every conversation I have had with Carlos has been the exactly the same. “I am well. How are you?” Or every once in a while I will respond in Spanish. “Buena. Como estas?” Then, Carlos in his heavy accent laughs at me and says, “Good. Thank you.” You have candy for throat?” I hand him his chough drops and he leaves the office.

Around André House everyone knows Carlos. He has a very distinct voice and he has some version of the same conversation with everyone. Actually, he has the same conversation with a person each time he sees that person. This means I may say “Hello. How are you?” with Carlos five times a day. Two years of the same conversation. I never really thought about this.

Then one day we had a different conversation.

Pencil, notebook and eraser

It was just Carlos and me in the office and he asked for a pencil, eraser and pencil sharpener. He told me he likes to draw. He picked up a small piece of paper, a piece no larger than a playing card, and sat in front of me at the desk and drew me a picture. He drew a simple picture of reeds, a fish, birds, a scene from a pond. I was mesmerized as he drew. It was not his drawing that was mesmerizing; it was that after two years of exactly the same conversation Carlos was now a different person to me. He had learned my name two years ago and had practiced many times saying it correctly. Today, as his drawing was finished he took a second piece of paper and practiced writing my name. Eight times he practiced writing my name.

It is easy for life to become mundane. It is easy to become caught up the daily grind. It is easy to follow the in and out of a daily schedule. How often do you sit down at the end of the day and you cannot even remember everything that you did throughout the day? I think this is especially true in relationships. It is easy to become static in relationships. I can often see this very clearly in community. After 10 months together we can exchange thoughts without words, we can predict when a person will not be able to follow through, we know each others’ likes and dislikes and can read each other with fairly good accuracy. This brings comfort and fluidity to our daily work.

Yet, it also inhibits us from challenging each other and being open to listening.

Similarly with family or friends, often conversations operate on a superficial level and lack the depth that brings about new ideas and the possibility of transformation. I think what we need more of is a healthy, childlike fascination with our daily events and the people in our lives. Fascination is a strong word, but I think it is the best one to describe what is needed to make a relationship flourish.

In the preface of The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell writes: “Our instinct as humans, after all, is to assume that most things are not interesting. We flip through the channels on the television and reject ten before we settle on one. We go to a bookstore and look at twenty novels before we pick the one we want. We filter and rank and judge.” Gladwell suggests that we must move beyond our human instinct and develop a constant consciousness to our lack of knowledge of each other in order to gives us the freedom to continue to learn and transform relationships.

Furthermore, a constant fascination of apparently mundane events grants us the ability to see the miracles of our daily lives. It may seem awkward to try and hold a conscious fascination with the world, but if you take a moment, take a breath, and stop to wonder and awe miracles will appear everywhere.

Photo credit: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/34348

some non-patriotic flag day thoughts

"flag over building" By Julia Walsh, FSPA

I am unpatriotic.  I don’t like flag day or other patriotic celebrations.  I feel like I am repeating myself a little, because I have written about this before (see my comments in this post, especially), but I dislike patriotism. I really, really do. I dislike patriotism so much that it sometimes makes me sick to my stomach. Seriously!

I am not unique for my questions about the tension about between the flag and the cross. A Busted Halo blogger wrote about it today too.

What’s with my dislike of the flag?  I think that it was the peace educator Coleman McCarthy who originally woke me up to how the flag doesn’t fit with the Gospel when I heard him speak about peace while I was on a college service trip to Washington DC.

I remember that Coleman McCarthy boldly acknowledged that no young person should have to choose between the flag and the cross, as they are opposites.  In our culture, though, it seems we glorify both, equally.  We even put the flag right next to the cross by the altar in the front of churches!

The flag has become a symbol of freedom caused by violence.  On the other hand, the cross is a symbol of freedom of caused by nonviolence.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I am a woman of the Gospel.  Sure, I am an American, and I appreciate the freedoms of our democracy.  I am grateful that I have the freedom to publicize these non-patriotic views, for example!  The reality, though, is that my freedom comes from God.  Although I may have more courage to be expressive of my views in this nation, I suspect I would still be vocal about God and the Gospel no matter where I am, and no matter what trouble it might get me in.  But, I am much more loyal to my faith than my country.  I believe that God will love me no matter where I am, no matter what.

I have major concerns about how many Americans turn to the flag and nationalism as a source for comfort and strength in times of turmoil.

I would rather everyone would turn exclusively to the cross, the True source of freedom.  Or, even better, Jesus, Love Incarnate.

p.s. I know this is radical and challenging stuff.  I’ve learned that a trouble about having a message is that people may become uncomfortable and offended, because values are tied to emotions.   Know that I still love you, even if we disagree. Peace!!

oh hey, summer! well hello, stranger!

The last day of teaching was well over a week ago and since then I have been on the move.  My itinerant summer has begun.

Many people have asked me what I am up to this summer.  The truth is that my life is just as packed and full as it normally is.  I love it that way.

Here’s the plan:  I am taking a theology class here this week, working as a mentor for this program next week, helping out at my sister’s organic farm the following week, working as a camp counselor here for a couple weeks in July, preparing for the next school year and then going to World Youth Day in Spain right before the school year begins mid-August.   I am really excited about all these great things, I am very grateful to have these blessings.

As my adventures unfold, I quickly become overwhelmed with the privilege, freedom and blessings I live out of.

I am especially conscious right now of how I am afforded the freedom to have these adventures because I am an American citizen with a valid passport and a strong support system.  The circumstances of my life permit me to travel and serve freely without fear of persecution, arrest or deportation.  I am mindful of how many could never freely have the experiences I am allowed because they fear for their safety and freedom in a broken, global immigration system.

My summer kicked off on June 4.  That day, I joined my community in celebrating the first vows of Sister Amy at our Motherhouse in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful liturgy and party and Amy was really glowing with the goodness of God.  What impressed most deeply upon my heart, however, was my pondering of one of the readings that Amy selected for her service:

But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! for wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Wherever you die I will die, and there be buried. May the LORD do so and so to me, and more besides, if aught but death separates me from you!”  –Ruth 1:16-17

What a beautiful devotion to the mystery of Love! Plus, what a commitment to the journey of discipleship!  Highlighted in my prayer in my contemplation of the Ruth story this time was how applicable the wisdom is to our struggle for just, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.

We have a lot to learn from the wisdom of history.  Thank God the border between the Moabite Plateau and Bethlehem wasn’t guarded! Praise God that the ancestor of Jesus could cross freely, remain devoted to love and family, and then marry across ethnicity!  Wow, what if our society worked that way!?  If we heeded scripture, I suspect we’d welcome strangers then realize they are saints.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way, right now.  My heart aches because of the real injustices related to immigration.  Many days the sorrow meets me in my email inbox and I am compelled to advocate and learn more.

Last week, my community held our Chapter of Chats.  These meetings are rooted in the tradition that St. Francis and his friars had in the 1200’s to come together and hold a Chapter of Mats to discuss the happenings of their lives.  I helped with the sessions led by our Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee, of which I am a member.  Our committee has been focusing our work on immigration reform for a while.  At the chapter, we viewed the powerful film The Visitor and discussed the great complexity of our broken immigration system. At another session, panelists spoke of how they personally have been impacted by the harm caused by the immigration laws.  As we gained awareness, we cried and prayed together that God would give us courage to act for change.

My concern with the topic of immigration extends beyond my work with JPIC.  As I state in this video, I am a daughter of immigrants.  I want all people to have same freedoms I have been blessed with.  Why should we be limited now?  Certainly, it seems necessary to have some order in our legalistic era, but I don’t think there is ever a justification for not treating people with dignity.

Although I have been concerned with immigration issues for a long time, it’s been more intense lately.  Last fall I visited an immigration deportation center in Chicago and it had a major impact on me.  I wrote about it here.  In 2008, the largest immigration raid in US history happened in Postville, Iowa just 10 miles from where I grew up.  Here is the story on NPR from last May, three years afterwards.   In July of that year, I attended a march and rally in Postville. It was amazing.

We were on the move that day.  We were moving with the Holy Spirit, like another Pentecost.  People of all races and tongues came from all over the nation to witness for the type of freedom we long and believe in: Christ’s freedom beyond borders, nations, languages, races, or places of origin.

As I move around this summer, I shall receive hospitality with joy and gratitude.  As we all move around, I pray that we can all welcome strangers and receive one another with the hospitality that Ruth- and Jesus- eventually found in Bethlehem.

Amen, Amen, may it be so!

An act of strange love: How I learned to stop worrying and defy the bomb (part 2)

Guest Blogger, Amy Nee (part 2 of 2 ) (Read part 1)

Monday morning I moved from contemplation to action.  As I stood among those trespassing on the construction site, an officer approached, barely in my periphery. “You’re under arrest,” he said, sliding two thin, interlocked, plastic strips over my wrists.  One slipped loose and he tightened both, severely inhibiting circulation in my left arm.  “I want to thank you for wasting our time!” he said, oozing tension and frustration.  The sentiment he voiced was not unusual, nor unreasonable.

Click to read NCR's story about the arrests.

Whether such actions are a waste of time is something I ask myself continually, but he didn’t see our commonality.  His distance from me and our intentions weighed heavy on my heart.   

Other officers were more open, if not to our cause, to our humanity.  The two I approached about my cuffs apologized.  The bus driver told jokes and tolerated our impromptu, uproarious, renditions of freedom songs. Passed from one officer to another, further and further from natural light and air—from an outdoor corral, to a bus, to a garage, to a “lobby” behind bars, to a holding cell—my compassion for these men and women, invested by the state with power to enforce constructed law, steadily grew.  They spent as much, if not more time behind bars than many inmates, pushing paper and people across dingy cement surfaces beneath the flickering glow of fluorescent lights.  A middle-aged woman writing my ticket expressed her regret at not having retired sooner.  A young woman who had been firing off routine inquiries slowed with dubious appreciation when I asked about her day.  A weary male guard entered the women’s cell announcing blankly, “Male-entering,” moving in and out with evident detachment.  

I caught myself falling into the automaton mentality the environment induced.  Bologna sandwiches had just been distributed.  I picked at mine, deep in discernment about whether I should deviate from my meatless ways to consume this finely processed food-stuff.  Suddenly, my name was called by an officer outside the cell.  My immediate reaction was to hurriedly obey, handing off my sandwiches and heading out of the cell without so much as saying goodbye or sharing an embrace with the sisters I was leaving.  I was directed in reverse through halls, picking up the belongings I’d relinquished on the way in, and brought without explanation back to the garage.  The door was opened and the light poured in.  “I can just walk out?” I asked the woman standing stiffly in the shadows.  She nodded.  I walked like one waking from a dream, dazzled by the brightness that engulfed me.

This small incident of obedience to conscience that required civil rebellion, offered a unique taste of liberty and shifted my relationship to societal ideas of what is normal and acceptable; what is right and wrong.  I cannot say for certain what is absolutely good or just.  I don’t know the perfect way to respond in love to the brokenness of our earth that I, sadly, continue to contribute to.  But I glimpse a good way in the image of life immersed in community, continually stirred to action, prodded to wakefulness.  I feel buoyed by the perpetual promise of resurrection that assures me I can continue to pour myself out, to do what scares me to death, trusting in the assurance that I will be born again to life abundant.

 

 

An act of strange love: how I learned to stop worrying and defy the bomb

Guest Blogger, Amy Nee (part 1 of 2)

Monday morning, May 2, 2011, on a construction site outsideKansas City, fifty-three men and women stood in a makeshift circle–hands clasped, voices raised.  We were surrounding a truck with two wary workers inside. These men were momentarily delayed from their task of building a factory that will be used to create “non-nuclear” parts for nuclear weapons.  This factory is intended to replace and improve on the Honeywell plant already responsible for 85% of non-nuclear parts in theU.S.nuclear arsenal.  We intended to stop them.  

We were trespassing, and this is against the law.  Until a few years ago, I didn’t see much point in getting arrested or in “activism” in general. My association with Catholic Workers and others of that ilk however, has served to soften my criticism of civil disobedience and symbolic action. It has broadened my perspective and my appreciation for ways of being a pacifist without being passive.

“Every choice,” Thomas Aquinas writes, “is a renunciation.”  Active pursuit of just alternatives may mean active resistance to what has already, unjustly, been established.  Active obedience to the law of love may mean active disobedience to laws that protect destruction, segregation, violence, oppression. Reframing the concept of resistance to injustice from civil disobedience, to “gospel obedience” and asking questions like, “who/what am I being obedient to?” and “by what standard is this deemed correct?” is tremendously helpful in discerning whether or not an action is appropriate.  I believe in making a gift of my life, tuning my thoughts, words and actions toward harmony with God and neighbor and with this generous, forgiving earth; I believe in filling in the gaps created through accident or ignorance or active hate. Protesting, and demonstrating and risking arrest does not fill in the gaps, but I do hope it draws attention to them.  It is a way of saying, “I see this and I will not close my eyes to it, I will not accept it.”  I continue to remember and be influenced by words I heard spoken in prayer at the 2010 Midwest Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat, “We do not act this way because we are sure we are right.  We act this way because we are compelled by love.”  Ultimately, love is the fulfillment of the law and the light of living.

Still, I continue to feel an internal dissonance at the idea of acting in a way that to all appearances is soliciting arrest.  I am wary of allowing the prospect of making a statement by going to jail to become a flimsy focus that becomes the priority of an action.  These questions confront me: Am I entering the space of conflict, or creating a new one?  Is this act a relevant means to a relevant end or a means to relieve my conscience and to stroke my ego? Am I presenting an alternative or only defying what is present?  Thomas Merton writes, “nonviolent action must establish itself in the minds and memories of humankind# not only as conceivable and possible, but a desirable alternative [to force]…the temptation to get publicity and quick results by spectacular tricks or by forms of protest that are merely odd and provocative but whose human meaning is not clear may defeat this purpose.”

I find energy and truth in the sit-ins of the civil rights movement, and the salt marches of India’s liberation movement.  These actions seem so practical and relevant; almost obvious in their direct confrontation of laws so evidently unlawful and their intimate tie to the uplift of individuals and society.  It makes sense to me to do what I believe is right even if there is a law against it, but does it make sense to purposefully defy civil law?  The answer is not readily evident to me.  I find though that a direct response to a real need is not always accessible.  I cannot physically stand in the way of a bomb, nor can I put my body between the earth and the seeping chemicals contaminating it, or between a worker’s body and those same destructive elements.  I can bring my body to a site dedicated to manufacturing nuclear weapons.  I can get in the way of business as usual and let my little body—multiplied in size and force through union with those around it—speak a “no” to foolhardy, fear-based destruction.

The Catholic Workers and other peacemaker groups inKansas City follow a way reminiscent of Gandhi’s three-tiered approach of Constructive Programme, Noncooperation, and Spiritual Renewal.  Geographically and relationally rooted with neighbors their actions are not based on a theoretical idea of what is needed or what is right but a practical understanding and shared experience of the joys, sorrows, abundance and lack of those living in the city.  The stands they take are carefully consistent and relevant to the concerns of those they live amidst.  

They not only defy loveless laws but live by, and illuminate alternatives walking gently on the earth by living simply and sustainably, practicing the works of mercy, acknowledging our interconnectedness with God and others.  In the context of this community, I felt an unprecedented confidence as I acknowledged the responsibility of my own complicity and moved forward with the plan to confront our culture’s worship of “the bomb,” of strength through destruction, by interrupting work at the construction site. This was not an isolated action. It was the extension of a lifestyle, of an understanding that noncooperation extends beyond a day of protest and is integrated into daily life—by sharing resources, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, resisting war taxes—by integrating beliefs with being.

 I’ll leave you with these thoughts and continue to explain how I learned to stop worrying (and moved from contemplation to action that Monday morning) in  tomorrow’s blog entry.