Blog Archives

LENT: Awe

Anti-Gang Groups-Bailout

One dictionary definition of the word awe is “wonder, but with more reverence.”  If you have an hour or so this week, please consider watching this interview with Greg Boyle. Boyle is a Jesuit priest, founder of Homeboy Industries, author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and works with gang members in East Los Angeles.  It would take several listens to glean all the insight from this interview, which ranges from inspirational stories about individuals he has met to the church’s role in the world and potential contribution at this stage in history.  He was particularly moving when he likened the serious struggles of some of the young people he knows to the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. The link was awe.

We often hear this familiar story of the early church as a sweet and inspiring description of a Utopian moment from long ago. Boyle studied it as an actual measure of the health of any community – that they “take care of each other,” “no one goes hungry,” etc.  When he came upon the phrase, “and awe came upon everyone,” a real light went on. What if, he asked, the measure of our compassion lies not in our service to those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship? How can we seek a compassion that can stand in awe at what people have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it?

We have known this feeling on occasion, and it is as good as it is rare.  The defensive, overly-stressed version of ourselves wants everyone to please just behave themselves and for the world to shape up in general. We’re quick to judge what is wrong on all sides of any situation. But there are moments of grace – unwarranted and unexpected – when the curtain is drawn and we see things a little more truly as they are, or at least might be in a Divine Mother’s eyes.  Then we feel it: kinship – the recognition that we are actually brothers and sisters, and  awe at the resilience in others instead of recoil from the brokenness.

-Kelli

{image: from Kevin & Linds}

HOUSE NEWS: Looking back at 2011-2012

The Green House

Now that we’re a few weeks into our summer sabbatical, I thought I’d share a short review of this past year. So many people are involved in keeping the Green House open and flourishing–each year we have a core of about 50 volunteers that function as “regulars”, showing up several times a month, every week or even multiple times each week; plus we have another group of folks that is easily double that number who drop in at least once-a-semester or several times over the course of the year to lend their help. We are so incredibly thankful for each of you who find the time to grace our community with your skill, your dedication, your wisdom and your time. You are the reason we thrive.

And I am always amazed at the amount of work we seem to accomplish together–work we undertake without any paid staff, no government assistance or tax breaks, on a shoestring budget, and by relying only on the financial support of house members, friends, family and some local churches (especially Holy Faith Catholic Church). Whether you live near or far, this is what your contributions to the Gainesville Catholic Worker helped to accomplish his year:

  • we provided 2,337 lunches at Dorothy’s Farmers’ Market Cafe, serving on average 67 friends and guests each Wednesday
  • we served 830 breakfasts of homemade cinnamon-raisin bread, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit to day laborers at 2 labor pools in downtown Gainesville
  • we welcomed into our home about 15 guests (for approximately 60 nights), who were in need of a place to stay
  • we were graced with the presence of 3 extraordinary young adults–Tamra, Daniel and Vickie–who learned about the Catholic Worker and issues of social justice and helped to lead our various projects as members of our house community this year
  • to people who have a hard time getting healthy produce, we redistributed a ton of fresh, locally-grown (and often organic) fruits and vegetables from our friends at the 441 Farmers Market (especially the Hendersons and the Grahams), from the good folks at the UF campus CSA who dropped off their unclaimed produce each week, from our own local parking lot garden, and especially from the Allen-Chacko micro-farm, where people also volunteered and learned about local farming and gardening from Jade
  • numerous friends, volunteers, and guests gathered each week to create beautiful and practical artwork and crafts at Art for All, or to knit items for the Art for All sale, personal projects and various clothing for cold nights for our friends from the street at the weekly gathering each Monday of the Green House Knitters
  • and week-in and week-out we opened our doors for people to get out of the cold, enjoy a cup of coffee, receive mail, use the bathroom, get a blanket or some clothing, share our evening meal, join in prayer and reflection, study and learn together, and so on.

Mainly, what we did this past year–what we actually do every year–is this: we walked together with one another, helping each other along the way, sharing what we have and who we are, and trying to truly be family to one another, as the best of our religious and spiritual traditions call us to. To everyone who has walked along the way with us this past year, we say thank you. And we hope you’ll join us again, mingling your life with ours, when we start back up in early August. Until then, we hope you have a blessed, peaceful and joyful summer.

HOUSE NEWS: Need ribbons, prayer time change, JustFaith begins!

To see all of what’s happening this week, click here.

Folks watching YF-Tennessee

It was a good and busy week at the GCW and we’re thankful to all of you who could join us for the various goings-on. From all the folks who gathered for football on Saturday to everyone who dined and helped at Dorothy’s Cafe on Wednesday, from the opening gathering of knitters on Monday to the crafters and artists who filled the dining room on Saturday–we’re so excited to have a full schedule, so much going on and so many helping out. Special thanks this past week to Karen, Linda, Jan and Alan for the food used for the football game party!

ART FOR ALL NEEDS RIBBONS: Kelli asked me to write and ask folks to donate ribbons (full ribbons, bits of ribbons) for an upcoming project. You can drop the ribbons off anytime.

SLIGHT TIME CHANGE FOR FRIDAY PRAYER: If you ever do Breakfast Brigade, or want to start your day off reflecting with others, feel free to join us on Friday mornings at 6:45am (note the slight change; we’re doing it right after Brigade and we’ve been getting done closer to 6:45) for a half-hour of reflection, discussion and centering prayer.

JUSTFAITH PROGRAM BEGINS: This Tuesday we start the JustFaith program at the house. If you want to learn more about JustFaith, click here. Classes have been offered the past two years in Gainesville through Catholic Charities. We have a group of about 12 doing the program this year. (Registration is closed…)

ACT IN SUPPORT OF FARMWORKERS: Earlier this week we received word from our friends in Immokalee about the latest campaign to achieve justice for farmworkers in our state. Click here to see an action alert about what you can do.

Hope some of you will join us this week to volunteer or just say hello. If you can help with Brigade or Cafe, drop us an email and let us know you’ll be there!

Buy your mom a local artisan-made gift for Mother’s Day

At the end of the month, we’ll be packing up what’s left of this semester’s Art for All project. This wonderful project has helped make money for the work we do at the house and also helped support some of our budding street artists. There are still some lovely things left – and we think your mother might like one of them:

These hand-painted flower parts hold a handmade washcloth and artisan soap - $12

Pin a handmade "urban flower" corsage on your mom - $10

mug rugs - $10 - and ...

cup cozies - for the coffee/tea drinking mom - $8

jewelry for all tastes - hemp and charm necklace - $12

recycled bottle caps and glass bead necklaces ("peace" in three languages) - $12

beaded bracelets - $12

lovely watercolors - $15-$25

and you can wrap your gift in upcycled calendar gift bags ($3)

Things are slowing down at the house, so give us a call before you come by  to make sure we’re home (find number under “contact” tab above).  Happy Mother’s Day!

HOUSE NEWS: Osama – and sharing food with the hungry

Like many of you, we woke up this morning to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.  Having never identified this one crazed man as the main source of hatred, violence, and religious mania in the world, it’s hard to see what’s changed since yesterday.We take heart in thoughtful responses like  that of James Martin, S.J.

And, as usual on a Monday, we are thinking about our overflowing refrigerator (thank you 441 farmers market farmers!) – and how we can turn it into something wonderful and tasty for Wednesday – and who is going to help. With ample help, we’ll be dishing up warm new potato salad, dilly refrigerator pickles, chefs salad – full of local strawberries, goat cheese, pecans, and boiled eggs, fresh bread, and stuffed pattypan squash. But we really need kitchen help in order to do this. Please let us know if you can help in the kitchen between 9 and noon on Wednesday – OR if you can help serve and clean up  between 11:45 and 3.

For the rest of this week’s schedule, please click here.

REFLECTION: The function(s) of religion

oakland catholic worker mural

Religion has always offered two very important but two very different functions. First of all, religion acts as a way of creating meaning for the separate self.  It offers myths, stories, tales, narratives, rituals and revivals which help the separate self  to make sense of and to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

This function of religion does not usually or necessarily change the level of consciousness in a person. In that sense it does not deliver radical transformation. It does not deliver a shattering liberation from the separate self altogether. Instead, it consoles the self, fortifies the self, defends the self, and promotes the self. And as long as this separate self believes the myths, performs the rituals, mouths the prayers, or embraces the dogma, then the self – it is fervently believed –  will be saved, either now in the glory of being God-saved or Goddess-favored, or in an afterlife that insures eternal wonderment.

Religion has also served, in a usually very small minority, the function of radical transformation and liberation. This function of religion does not fortify the separate self – but utterly shatters it. What is experienced is not consolation but devastation, not entrenchment but emptiness, not complacency but explosion, not comfort but revolution. In short, not a conventional bolstering of  consciousness, but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.

- Ken Wilber

HOUSE NEWS: Volunteer needs, cleaning supplies, and student community members for next Fall

Kendera, the calm in the center of the whirlwind of last-minute Cafe preparations

For a full schedule of what’s happening this week, please click here. 

CAN YOU HELP DURING THE MONTH OF MAY? While graduation is looming and we are about to lose some wonderful volunteers and participants, we are striving to keep to most of the spring schedule through May. We are receiving an abundance of food after the farmers market and want to use it at the Cafe and Breakfast Brigade. Can you help? We’ll need a new team of “Local Food Chef Trainees” for May to prepare the cafe meal (9:30 – 12) as well as folks to serve it (12-3). We also need a new bunch of morning people for the Breakfast Brigade (4:30-7:00 AM). Please email us and let us know if you an help keep this going during the month of May!

IN NEED OF CLEANING SUPPLIES! If you’re a student who is getting ready to go home for the summer or move out of your apartment, please consider donating your cleaning supplies to the GCW! We can always use laundry detergent, various bathroom cleaners, bleach, etc. We could also use a good brrom for the house (ours are wearing down) if you have one that needs a new home.

LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT FALL: Next semester we’ll be accepting 3-6 student/young adults interested in exploring life and work ina gospel-based community, standing with and working alongside people whom our society marginalizes, and deepening one’s sense of the intersection between  spirituality and social justice. Let us know if you’re interested in more information.

Happy Easter!

EASTER: Dance, Wherever You May Be

I recently talked with a friend who, like me, goes through periods when she feels stuck in a long Lent – waiting for God or some new idea of God to manifest itself. “Religion” has let us down on occasion, and we both sometimes wonder where we belong. I described myself as a member of the The Church of Perpetual Wonder and Frequent Disappointment.  She says she’s a Follower of Dancing Matt. “You get out there and do your crazy-looking dance with as much joy and hope as you can muster – and sometimes people join you.”

The English words to the music in the background of the Dancing Matt video are from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. They point to something beautiful and true about every life: that we are connected to one another and to all of Creation – whatever our geographical home or spiritual state at the moment.

Stream of Life
by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

This is actually not far afield from our Catholic roots. I found myself thinking of a more traditional hymn we had both sung often over the years, and I found a number of renditions on YouTube. Here is a sweet, vintage version by Tommy Makem (one of the most Irish-looking men I’ve ever seen!).

***

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said He
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body, they thought I was gone
But I am the dance, and the dance goes on.

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said He
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

- Kelli

LENT: Week six, Saturday – Practice Resurrection

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

- Wendell Berry, The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

LENT: Week six, Good Friday – Salvation

Many years ago now, when I was invited to speak at a church gathering, my host said, “Tell us what is saving your life now.” It was such a good question that I have made a practice of asking others to answer it even as I continue to answer it myself. Salvation is so much more than many of its proponents would have us believe. In the Bible, human being experience God’s salvation when peace ends war, when food follows famine, when health supplants sickness and freedom trumps oppression. Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works.

- Barbara Brown Taylor

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