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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden July 31, 2009

Front Lawn Garden

Garden 08/02/09

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Christmas: The End And Beginning - Friday, December 25, 2009

Birth Cave in Bethlehem

Christmas comes at the end of the year and introduces the New Year to come in a week. Christmas comes on one of the darkest days of the year and brings new light. Christmas celebrates God becoming one of us. Christmas is about a poor family having a baby, in an occupied country, who becomes the savior of the world. Christmas is a religious day and, in the USA, our largest commercial holiday. Christmas day is one we wait and get busy for, children anticipate and some adults find depressing. Christmas, although a Christian holiday, is celebrated by persons of all faiths. Christmas certainly is a paradox.

This Christmas I heard from all four members of the family in India I got to know on the Pilgrimage of Peace, although they are of Hindu faith. My friend in Milwaukee from Sierra Leone, a Muslim, called to wish us a Merry Christmas. What is it about Christmas that it appeals to so many, especially children and young at heart?

My guess is probably because Christmas, like life, is a paradox, celebrating opposites. Some, like children, can balance the tension of a good paradox. Although I believe in a moral right and wrong, I still believe life is a paradox. Like a seed we must die to rise again for new life.

For our Christmas dinner tonight we had a salad which all the greens, lettuce, sunflower sprouts, arugula, basil and parsley were grown in the unheated sun room this winter. Growing food in a room with only a small space heater is a paradox but a delicious one.

Some say “we become what we think” but thinking too much can stop us from living. I encountered a person today, Christmas day, that really believes that something created in the mind is true in reality. I started to tell the person how his thinking did not make sense and then thought it does make sense for that person. Who am I to day it does not make sense?

Today ends my Diary of Worm postings for 2009. I will take some silent time away from the postings and be back January 1, 2010. May the peace of the newborn baby conquer all your fears?


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Christmas Eve Message - Thursday, December 24, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr.

Christmas message 3 comes from a “Christmas Eve Sermon on Peace” by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967, his last Christmas eve before he was killed. The message rings true to us today and was sent to me by a friend today. It may not be what we want to hear but is a message we need to hear. Comment below if this message rings true to you. You can find the message at A Christmas Eve Sermon on Peace or to hear Martin Luther King read the speech check:


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Christmas Message 2 - Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., 2009

The Christmas message, that God became incarnate in history in order to help humanity, is indeed Good News (gospel) to all. To the terrified shepherds the angel proclaimed: “Do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people” (Lk 2:10). When the wise men from the East arrived at the birthplace of Jesus, “they were overwhelmed with joy” (Mt 2:10). And Mark begins his gospel on a similarly happy note: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1).

In order for a message to be “news,” it must be of something really happening in our lives, in the world, in history. And it is “good” news to the extent that it signifies some genuine betterment, or at least a good possibility of that, in the lives and conditions of its hearers.

The world in which the Word took on flesh is a mixed scene in which evil wars upon goodness, justice, and love in human hearts and in the structures of society. Christmas means that the good not only has a chance but will ultimately win this conflict.


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Christmas Message 1 - Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thomas Merton

This is the first of a series of Christmas Messages. This one is from the Advent-Christmas circular letter of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, sent to friends late in 1967:

The times are difficult. They call for courage and faith. Faith is in the end a lonely virtue. Lonely especially where a deep authentic community of love is not an accomplished fact, but a job to be begun over and over… Love is not something we get from Mother Church as a child gets milk from the breast: it also has to be given. We don’t get love if don’t give any.

Christmas, then, is not just a sweet regression to breast-feeding and infancy. It is a serious and sometimes difficult feast. Difficult especially if, for psychological reasons, we fail to grasp the indestructible kernel of hope that is in it. If we are just looking for a little consolation — we may be disappointed.

— Thomas Merton
The Road to Joy, Robert E. Daggy, editor
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989; p 108.


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Deal With Winter! - Monday, December 21, 2009

Dustin Snowboarding

After all these years of my life I am still adapting to the cold and snow of winter. It seems to have been easier as a child. I can remember ice skating and tobogganing at Washington Park in the winter and building snowmen. Now I worry about driving and shoveling in the snow, and the cost of heat in the winter.

Last week when I went to my son’s and his family’s house for the grandchildren’s concerts, my grandson Dustin took me outside to watch him snowboarding. It looks like fun but I gave up on skiing long before there was snowboarding.

Perhaps if I put my time and energy into growing in the sun room I could enjoy winter more. The sun room is a statement to winter that I can grow despite the cold and snow.

I could live with three seasons, spring, summer and fall, but the reality is that there is winter. I may not get used to winter but I need to deal with it.


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Stigma Slows Down! - Sunday, December 20, 2009

I started to put together a collage of pictures I took at the Christmas concerts of my three grandchildren the other night when suddenly my picture collage making program stopped working. Disappointed but persistent, I created a slide show on Flicker you can view at Pulaski Grade and Middle School Christmas Concerts. The computer program malfunction slowed me down but did not defeat my showing these pictures. A collage would have been more creative, but at least the 25 pictures tell the story without words or sounds.

I took a friend with a disability to visit his aging mother suffering from Alzheimer disease today. His mother, although she has seen me many times there and at church, had a hard time recognizing me. I joked with her that I was her “substitute son” and she smiled with a look of recognition.

On the way home my friend and I somehow started to talk about how a stigma stains the soul. His insight into stigmas was that, like cancer, there were many different types of stigmas. According to him there are all kinds of stigmas, like big and small, harmful or funny and bitter or sweet.

One thing I do know about stigmas is that they are like a broken computer program; they can stop you completely from acting or just make a change in how you do things. A stigma or broken commuter program can slow one down but cannot defeat anyone who does not want to be defeated.


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The Meaning of Christmas - Saturday, December 19, 2009

It is the week before Christmas and we are so busy shopping, sending and receiving emails that the meaning of Christmas seems to get lost once again.

Christmas started once upon a time as a way to remember a story, how in an occupied country a baby was born to poor parents who had faced rejection in looking for a place to stay. At the time of his birth, this baby was a nobody, an insignificant figure. At the time of this baby’s death, 33 years later, he was still an insignificant and rejected figure, barely mentioned in recorded history.

Christmas is now remembered by gifts given and received. Success not rejection, importance not insignificance is now associated with Christmas.

This year, for the first time in our forty plus years of marriage, we just have a small, artificial Christmas tree. There is no room on it for the many Christmas tree ornaments we have collected over the years. Not many gifts can fit on the table it rests on. Certainly there is no room for tinsel on this tree, a family tradition when I was growing up. Yet, I must admit this small, insignificant tree has some charm. In some ways it makes seeing the meaning of Christmas easier.


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Too Much Information - Friday, December 18, 2009

Watching again, this time with some friends, a recording of Howard Zinn’s broadcast of The People Speak on the History Channel was a vivid reminder of how it is not information but the power of art, speech and action that persuades persons and changes history.

We live in the information age. We are inundated with information. Sometimes I think there is too much information and we cannot process it and let it be our own. More information often numbs us rather than leads us to take action. There is too much to learn, do and feel, so sometimes we do nothing and feel nothing.

We have so much information available to us but so little sense of right and wrong. Truth is no longer an absolute we seek but just an unending collection of information. Gandhi characterized himself as always struggling for truth. Many of us today could be characterized as always seeking more information. We often mistake information as truth.

Often these days I feel like the information I have far outstrips by action and awareness. I feel like I need to know less to really know more.

People I have admired in life, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day or Mahatma Gandhi were not very current on day to day news, but yet understood what was happening in life much better than the well informed man or woman. What they knew, they knew deeply, and the quality of their knowledge made up for any lack of quantity.

We live in an information age where information is often money. I believe we need to live more in a reflective age, where we perhaps have less information but know more about what we know. Facts and figures are fine but information does not change hearts and minds like a story, experience or art can do. Too Much Information, (TMI), can be way of avoiding knowing the truth.


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Only If I Could Sing! - Thursday, December 17, 2009

K-5 Sings!

Music is certainly a common language. Today I attended the grade school concert and the middle school band concert in the Pulaski, WI school district. Two of my grandchildren sang in the grade school concert, and my oldest grandson played percussion in the middle school band concert. On the way to and from the concerts I played on my car CD some of the classic hits of Bob Dylan. From the Christmas carols to the band instrumentals to the ballads of Dylan, all the music spoke to me. From Silent Night to Blowin’ in the Wind, the words were meaningful and the 6th grade band sounds were unexpectedly smooth and melodic.

Thinking about different cultures I have experienced — Indian, Guatemalan, Venezuelan and American — music has played a significant role, probably equal to if not greater than, agriculture. Not everybody grows food, but almost everyone hears or sings music in all cultures.

It could be that folk songs, classical music, jazz or blues, played or sung, at funerals or weddings is deeply meaningful, even to people like me that cannot sing. At some deep level we all seem to enjoy music.

On the way home I started to think about the words to one of my favorite songs, Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind. In it he asks different questions, but always has the same answer: “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind.” I started to think about some of the questions I have been throwing out recently to friends that no one wants to answer, and substituting them in the song for Dylan’s questions. Maybe I should, since the answer is the same musically: The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yesterday I complained in an email to friends how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did not print my letter to the editor about how the Mayoral takeover of the Public Schools, as proposed in Milwaukee, has in Chicago led to the militarization of the public school system. This morning they published it. No one responded to my email and no one responded today about the published “letter to editor.” Maybe I need to sing my message to get it heard. Only if I could sing!


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Keep The Faith - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A friend gave me a long article to read, Af-Pak War Racket: The Obama Illusion Comes Crashing Down, by David DeGraw . The article is a well researched explanation of the dangerous position our country is being placed in by those profiteering by war. My friend asks me what I thought of the article. All I can say to all these facts and information is “I know it but do not want to know it.”

To me the insanity and danger of the present US wars and economy is clear. Articles like this only reinforce my thoughts and urge me to cry out more to stop this madness before it is too late. But I am only one corn stalk in rows and rows of corn stalks. What can I do to stop this plague on all of us?

My only refuge is my faith in God. I said to a friend today who wrote me in need and to a friend who called on her way to a hospital in Madison that I would pray for them in my everyday words and actions.

To pray always takes a lot of discipline and commitment, things I sorely lack. But I can pray for the strength to cry out “like a voice in the wilderness” and to act in a way that I want others to act.

A late night talk show host on Public Radio always ends his show with the saying “Keep the faith.” In times of war and greed, in times of disrespect for human life, all we can do is “keep the faith.”


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Questions Turn Up The Heat! - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today reluctantly I purchased another small heater for the sun room. I have given up on electrical oil radiant heaters as two have now failed over the last 4 or 5 years. So I turned to a small heater with a fan. However, it is going to take another sunny day before I can raise the heat to an acceptable level for growing and keep it there with a small heater. I hesitated to get another heater but for the plants to grow it was necessary.

Also today I discovered another way of turning the heat up, asking questions. In email and political talk I have been asking questions like “Is the War in Afghanistan a Just War?” after President Obama declared it one. I asked persons to give a yes or no answer to the question before giving their reasons or comments.

Most people ignored the question, but one that answered it got mad at me for asking for a yes or no answer before the comments. He had made a comment but, like other email comments, I’d rather not interpret it, so had asked for a yes or no besides the comments that were vague. I have developed a list of questions that seem to make people upset to answer. For example, I asked a Ph.d ethical theologian “Is it moral and ethical for a Catholic university to host departments of military sciences?” He never would answer the question.

One of the reasons for asking for a yes or no before comments is that in this day and age ethics and morals seem to be so vague and flexible. I’d rather have a person say yes to a question that I say no to than not answer it at all. For a true dialog and creative conflict we need to be clear where we stand.

Now all this is in the context of seeking truth. Stating what we believe firmly does not mean we cannot change or mind or feel hostile to the person who disagrees. One of the definitions of Gandhi’s Satyagraha or what we may call “creative nonviolence” is “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.” To that we can add Dorothy Day’s comment that we must act according to our conscience even though we may be misinformed.

So as the heat rises in the sun room I will keep asking questions. Although my answer to the questions is clear for now, I need to hear other answers. Maybe my clear answer will change, be less clear or reinforced. However, questions turning the heat up are necessary to grow.


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Where is the Fire? - Monday, December 14, 2009

This summer I discovered a good way to use the heat of the sun to supplement the heat in my sun room this winter. I wrote about it in a posting in the Diary of the Worm called Wasted Space Heater and explored the concept with a friend who had some good advice on how to do it. But I failed to find anyone to do it and it went undone. Now another electric radiator heater died and I need to open the door to sun room from the house to keep plants alive till the heater is replaced. Where is the heat from the roof, I could be collecting during sunny days, when I need it?

Last Sunday, when we were in Iowa, I went to Sunday Liturgy with my brother at his newly built church. The priest at the liturgy gave a homily about John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, who displayed a lot of ‘fire’ or passion in his preaching and actions. He asked us where is the fire in our lives? Can people look at us and say this person is so alive and full of fire for God that he or she must be from this Church?

I have been applauded and accused of being a passionate person. My enthusiasm has served me well and gotten me in trouble. But it comes naturally. I feel an urge to do and say what I think right, no matter the consequences. Like a child I need to share something good or bad coming my way. However, if the fire gets out of control, it can hurt others and me.

The priest last Sunday talked about how John the Baptist, when asked how a person could improve their life, told the person to do what they do in everyday life with more intensity and spirit. Perhaps that is the key to keeping the fire burning bright in our lives but under control. Rather than let it go wild, keep it burning inside out in our daily lives. So, next time someone asks “Where is the fire” we can just point to ourselves.


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“Waitin’ on Roosevelt or Obama” - Sunday, December 13, 2009

Langston Hughes

After coming back from my brother’s house tonight, I was able to watch some of The People Speak on the History Channel. It is a series of readings and songs by contemporary actors and artists based on Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. One reading particularly struck me, a reading by Danny Glover of a poem by Langston Hughes’ “Ballad of Roosevelt”. It was written during the great depression of the thirties and first appeared in the New Republic in 1934. Yet if we substitute the word “Obama” for “Roosevelt” it is relevant today.

As Howard Zinn points out, in history courses we are taught about the great accomplishments of President Roosevelt, creating jobs, social security, minimum wage, the welfare system, but we do not hear about the people’s protests, strikes, nonviolent actions that pushed President Roosevelt to take these positions. As he points out, democratic change comes from the bottom up not the top down.

Friends of mine have put lots of hope in the election of President Obama. During the campaign he asked us, if he was elected, to push him for the change that he was promising. Yet now some of the same persons are willing to excuse President Obama for not following up on his promises and are willing to wait for Obama.

There are more and more people, unemployed, going hungry, homeless, being foreclosed each day in the United States. Yet while President Obama escalates his war in Afghanistan, the American people who elected the president are willing to wait for him to change.

Read the poem below and substitute “waitin’ for Obama” for “waitin’ on Roosevelt.”


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Remembering - Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tonight we had a grape leaf and kibbi dinner with my brother, my niece, nephew and his fiancée. It was about a year ago, December 7, 2008 that my brother’s wife, Nancy, was in a fatal car crash. Tonight as we enjoyed this Middle East dinner we remembered Nancy not so much in word but in spirit. Normally she and my wife would be busy in the kitchen preparing this special meal. Tonight it was my niece and my wife in the kitchen.

It was just over a year ago that my friend Jim Harney died from brain cancer. He is best remembered by his pictures of the poor, undocumented, marginalized and refugee. (See Jim Harney’s final journal)

Remembering these two is not sad but joyful. They were both full of life, enjoying every bit of it so that even a sudden death could not stop their spirit from living on in the memories of all who knew them. We remember Jim and Nancy with joy.


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Organize! - Friday, December 11, 2009

Howard Zinn

A good home garden is organized. Plants are arranged in good soil, in sun or shade, in rows, hills or bunch. Plants are weeded, pruned and watered as they need to be. The gardener is the organizer of the garden. A good business is organized. Tasks get done on time, there is accountability and hard work pays off.

Yet when it comes making changes in our government structures we are all over the place and are not very well organized. Some want this changed and some want that changed and sometimes groups want the same thing but compete against each other, rather than work together, to do the job.

I was talking today with a friend how we in the peace and justice movements need to organize and work together to make significant change. We talk cooperation and community but do not organize in action. Thus the powers structures that be do not change.

Hearing the historian Howard Zinn talk about “people history’ tonight on TV I heard the same message from him that I heard in 1968 when he testified in the trial of the Milwaukee 14: change in a democracy comes from the bottom up, not from the bottom down. We need to work together, to organize, and sometimes we may even need to engage in civil disobedience to change structures. Watching a video tonight on the History of India I saw how a famous ‘war lord’, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, discovered the power of ‘nonviolence’, organized and made changes that radically changed the course of history in India.

Look at the nice garden, how it is well organized. Learn from the garden and history. Organize!


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Personal Body Person - Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thomas Merton

A year or so ago, I had a series of bumper to bumper car accidents, some not my fault and some my fault, that put my car in the body shop frequently. I became such a good customer of this particular body shop that when I went in, afterward, for a small thing, the owner did not charge me. When I asked him why, he said that I was such a good customer.

Since that time I have, fortunately, not been back there. However, today, when a plastic piece in my front end was dragging on the streets, I hesitantly went back to the body shop. The owner had one of his workers look at the situation and decided it was just a simple job of putting staples and the piece back in. The worker did it in about 10 minutes and again there was no charge. It is really good to have a personal car body person.

The horror of today was not this body part hanging from my car but hearing our President using King, Gandhi, just war and nonviolence to justify more killing and violence in Afghanistan as he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Many consider this war not be in our self defense and not justified. He seemed very sincere in his belief that war and violence can bring peace, yet history tells us the opposite. I am sure our “enemies” feel just as sincere in killing us as President Obama feels in killing them. Sincerity does not make it right or just.

Today was the 41st anniversary of the death of a great prophet of our time, Thomas Merton. Thomas Merton, although a monastic monk, saw the world as it is and spoke truths that are as relevant today as they were in the days when “communists” not “terrorists” were our enemies. A friend Jim Forest, who just rewrote his book on Merton Living with Wisdom, sent me words and songs that were inspired by Merton. I will soon put them on the Quotes form Thomas Merton page.

Thomas Merton was our personal body person when it comes to war and peace. He saw the world from a distance yet was in the heart, mind and body of the world, speaking the universal Truth. President Obama desperately needs a personal body person.


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Only Natural - Wednesday, December 09, 2009

RTA Rally

Nature, left alone, has a way of balancing itself and evolving. As Darwin pointed out, the creatures that are adaptable, like the worm, prosper and evolve. There is much talk these days about human interference with nature, producing tons of carbon dioxide each day and wrecking havoc on the environment with such things as global warming. Whole countries, like Bangladesh, are being destroyed by global warming, while some in USA argue if there is such a thing.

In a large urban environment, like Metro Milwaukee, an effective mass transit system seems only natural. Most major cities realized this a long time ago and have bus, subway and train systems that link people with jobs, schools, entertainment and each other. However, for some reason, Metro Milwaukee has failed to do this. We are losing jobs, educational opportunities and money for our lack of mass transit. Last year we even voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to tax ourselves to set up an independent Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to create a good transit system. But since it was a non-binding referendum, our state legislators are still debating if they will allow the will of the people for an effective transit system to exist. The collage on this page, my first attempt of creating one with this software, is from a rally last Saturday for the RTA.

In a rich country that talks much of the value of education it would seem only natural that good education be free and open to everyone. But not in the USA. In fact our education system is becoming more militarized as I pointed out in The Militarization of University Education. I am discovering now that this is the case for middle and high schools. Fighting war, a very unnatural occurrence, has become our best educational opportunity.

Also for a rich country, it is only natural and right to take of the poor, weak and marginalized. Yet, while the rich get richer, poverty, hunger and homelessness is on the increase in the USA.

Tonight at dinner we had a salad with lettuce and arugula from the GP box in the sun room, a little thing but very natural. If only we could do what is good and natural for our transit and educational systems and persons that are hungry and homeless. It is only natural to work for the natural.


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Canceled By Snow or Self - Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I had three events canceled today, one by nature and two by myself. The one canceled by nature, a snowstorm, was my grandson’s first middle school band concert in Pulaski, WI that was to be tonight. This one is easy to accept and actually left me with more time at home.

The other two were a lunch with a friend who is going to the Holy Land in a few days, and a Doctor’s appointment this afternoon. I had to cancel these two because I did not listen to my wife last night when her car broke down at a suburban library parking lot. I put my faith in the word of a locksmith who promised to take care of the situation over that of my wife to have it towed to an auto shop near her job. The locksmith failed to deliver and we ended up towing the car to the same place where we could have delivered it last night. Thus I canceled two events — the lunch and an appointment.

In a posting recently I said how I was going to write more about the Gandhi principle of Swadeshi, the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign. It is sort of like what our mothers used to say to us “Charity starts at home.”

Yesterday I felt stupid since I was neglecting to practice what I preach on Swadeshi, cleanliness, maintaining the house and self discipline. I made a new resolution to start with my home and self, even fixing the garage door opener that broke some months ago. But then last night I made the same old mistake, listening to a person I did not know over my dear wife.


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Solidarity with Undocumented - Monday, December 07, 2009

Jim Harney’s Final Journey

My wife’s car ignition locked today when she was at a library gathering in Franklin, WI. At first we thought it was her car key but after I picked her up from work and drove to Franklin we found that it is was not the key but the ignition lock. Hopefully the mobile locksmith can do his job tomorrow.

But I made it home tonight to watch the Monday night football game starring the Green Bay Packers. Watching a football game and working on the web is doable but very slow. I decided to use the slow web posting time to put some of Jim Harney’s Latin American pictures with the Final Journal of Jim Harney.

Jim sought to live his life as photo-journalist in solidarity with the poor and undocumented. So the interruption of life with a broken car lock combined with viewing a football game on TV, both trivial events, led to my adding Jim’s picture to his final journal that his companion, Nancy, is sharing.

Nancy has more to share and there are many more pictures of Jim’s to share. Stay tuned: my wife’s car is old and may break down again, the Packers will play on TV another day and there is more to share of Jim’s journey to be in solidarity with the poor and undocumented.


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Thank God for the Sun! - Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sun Rise over Washington, D.C.

On this day of good old St. Nick the sun was out which made everything okay. There is much talk on local TV news and in casual conversations about what the weather may be. Weather predictions now come up front in news broadcasts, and people are buzzing these days about the snow to come. I guess there is some point to weather forecasts, but the only truly accurate one I know is found by stepping outside. If I see the sun is out, no matter how cold or snowy it is, I am glad. The sun warms my GP Home Model sun room and plants and warms my spirits. No matter how hard we try we cannot, at least not yet, control the weather or replace the sun. All we can do is be grateful for the weather and for the sun.

As a child growing up in Milwaukee, Dec. 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas, was the first visible sign that Christmas in our home was near. Waking up in the morning and finding our stockings full of candy and small gifts was a sure sign of more to come. St. Nick’s day paved the way for Christmas.

In the scriptures St. John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, paved the way for the coming of Jesus. He predicted, more clearly than any weatherperson, the coming of the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with us. Like the weatherperson with the weather, or us children with our stockings, St. John had no control over what was to come. But he clearly saw what was to come and made ready the path.

Thank God for the sun and for the Son of God.


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Transit, Dinner and Toilets - Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rally for RTA

My day was basically defined by three social events, all very different and very similar. This afternoon I went to a rally for a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to be created for southeast Wisconsin. It would have an independent funding source. I have known for some time how poor a transit system we have in Milwaukee County and how dependent many persons are on buses for work, school and recreation. I have memories as a child taking the bus to library, boys club, swimming pool and school. Over the years the cost of taking the bus has skyrocketed while routes and service has seriously decreased. However, I did not realize till today how much this decline in mass transit has affected our beloved city, jobs base and people. Speaker after speaker, from bus drivers, to the handicapped, to businessmen, to political officials, testified to the tragic effect of poor transportation on our economy.

I thought all would be well and we would start to build a good transit system last year when we overwhelming approved with our votes a referendum to create a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) with its own tax base. But the referendum was not binding and it seems the State Legislature politicians need more motivation than the will of the people to raise taxes for services. I was a little disappointed that all we can do now is to call on our legislators.

Tonight was the monthly Faith In Recovery dinner for a Church group we used to belong to before we started a group in our church. It is always good to see old friends and meet new ones, since this Faith in Recovery group is ever expanding. Members of this group make regular visits to persons in the mental health unit of the Veterans Hospital. I feel very busy yet that this is something I should do. Being familiar with persons with mental health diseases, and being a little crazy myself, I enjoy and feel comfortable with persons in mental health units.


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Wall of Saints - Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wall of Saints

I finally completed my wall of saints today with the addition of Lorenzo Rosebaugh below the picture of Dorothy Day and the picture of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter below the picture of Blessed Frederic Ozaman. I am blessed to have met Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, several times in my life and to have called Lorenzo a friend. Blessed Franz was murdered for following his conscience in the year I was born, and Frederic Ozaman lived in the 19th century and was the founder of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, the largest Catholic lay organization in the world, which visits and serves people in need of which I am a member.

All four were persons of conscience whose actions spoke louder than their words. They believed and practiced the creed to make your message your life, a goal that I am constantly striving for. They were all gentle and compassionate persons who did the ‘right thing’, no matter the consequences.

In this day and age of sports heroes, video games and endless wars it feels good to have models that lived the peace and justice we seek. Like my friend Jim Harney, the gift and lessons of life they gave us teach us today as we read their words and remember their actions.

There are many others, deceased and alive, whose words and actions have inspired me. But in these harsh, noisy times of senseless wars and violence and numbing of conscience, these four on the wall will do.

P.S. The knotty pine base of the lamp is the proud accomplishment of my taking shop in a Pubic School when I attended a nearby Catholic grade school. It was a gift for my parents, which we inherited after their death. It too, like these four, is a reminder of persistence to do the right thing. The picture of the garden in the middle was there first, before the other four pictures, and it seems to be the right thing.


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Research, Corn Bread and Stew or Protest - Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ella’s Corn Muffins & Uncle Bob’s Stew

This morning basically consisted of doing research at the Marquette University Library. I got a late start and discovered a wealth of material. So when I finally got home I immediately started the beef stew that I had promised Ella in exchange for some of her delicious corn muffins. Cooking on and off, while doing other things, I finished the stew at 4pm, just in time for the exchange. I brought Ella some of the stew and she gave me some of her corn bread muffins. Thus we both could enjoy a dinner of corn bread muffins and stew, something every elderly Jesuit and former Jesuit knows about since it was the regular Sunday breakfast fare for many years of our training.

Driving back from Ella’s house with corn muffins I thought about my next planned venture of the day, joining some friends in protesting the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. I think it is good to protest that which violates our conscience but considered how easily protest without nonviolent action is dismissed these days and how ineffective it has become.

While the stew was cooking I was working on pictures from the experience at SOAWatch, protest of the training of soldiers from Latin America to torture and kill those struggling for human rights. I decided that this protest was enough to last me a long while. So I came home, made the final preparations for dinner of corn bread and stew and skipped tonight’s protest.

During my research this morning I ran across statements of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, about the value of the principle of subsidiarity, the principle that political power should be exercised by the smallest or least central unity of government. It sounded like the Gandhi principle of Swadeshi, the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign.

In my mind the protest of SOA Watch was all the protest I needed for months to keep me struggling, researching, writing and taking nonviolent action. Preparing corn bread and stew for dinner, together with Ella, was a practice of taking care of business on the basic level of food. Maybe research and corn bread was enough and missing the protest was not important.


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Up With Sprouts - Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sunflower Sprouts Ready to Harvest

The start of this new month of December was not so good. The health of someone, close to me, took a turn for the worse, and the drums of war were ringing over our land as the war and violence in Afghanistan is to be escalated. With all the sickness and violence in the air it was hard to stay at peace.

However, there were signs of hope today. This afternoon the sun came out and the sun room was full of heat. I planted a tray of sun flower seeds for sprouts in the sun room today. I had lost the seed bag instructions but remembered enough of how to plant them in the tray and cover it for days until the sprouts appear.

Also I drove my friend Ella of Ella’s patch quilts on an errand today and she told me how someone had called her about a patch quilt that got her number from the wiki website that I created for her. Also we talked about putting her corn bread muffins together with my homemade stew tomorrow to create a dish, cornbread and stew. When I was I was a Jesuit seminarian at St. Bonifacius, MN this was our special Sunday breakfast for four years.

It was one of those up and down days. I was down hearing the President saying how by escalating the war we will end it successfully, and down further by watching an video on showing a B-1 plane droping 500lb bombs during a firefight in Kandahar, Afghanistan 2008. Senseless killing in the central city, by B-1 bombers, by silent drones over villages in Pakistan is still senseless killing and only leads to more death and violence.

With all this death and illness moving in it is time to purchase more sprout seeds and watch them grow up in darkness and then in light: healthy food for life.


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