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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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Spring Into May - Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring at Walden Pond

Tomorrow is May 1st, May Day. We are deep into spring. My friend Jim Forest in Holland sent me a few quotes about spring which I would like share with you tonight. Nature offers many wonders and spring is full of surprises and awe.

“Yes, it is nice now in the country, not only nice but positively amazing. It’s real spring, the trees are coming out, and it is hot. The nightingales are singing, and the frogs are croaking in all sorts of tones. I haven’t a halfpenny, but the way I look at it is this: the rich man is not he who has plenty of money, but he who has the means to live now in the luxurious surroundings given us by early spring.” — Anton Chekhov, in a letter to Lydia Avilov dated April 29 1892

“The elms are now generally in blossom and Cheney’s elm still also. The last has leaf-buds which show the white. Now, before any leaves have appeared, their blossoms clothe the trees with a rich, warm brown color, which serves partially for foliage to the street-walker, and makes the tree more obvious. … It is a beautiful day, — a mild air, — and all farmers and gardeners out and at work. Now is the time to set trees and consider what things you will plant in your garden. Yesterday I observed many fields newly plowed, the yellow soil looking very warm and dry in the sun; and one boy had fixed his handkerchief on a stick and elevated it on the yoke, where it flapped or streamed and rippled gaily in the wind, as he drove his oxen dragging a harrow over the plowed field. […] Dodging behind a swell of land to avoid the men who were plowing, I saw unexpectedly (when I looked to see if we were concealed by the field) the blue mountains’ line in the west (the whole intermediate earth and towns being concealed), this greenish field for a foreground sloping upward a few rods, and then those grand mountains seen over it in the background, so blue, —seashore, earth-shore, — and, warm as it is, covered with snow which reflected the sun. Then when I turned, I saw in the cast, just over the woods, the modest, pale, cloud-like moon, two-thirds full, looking spirit-like on these daylight scenes. Such a sight excites me. The earth is worthy to inhabit.” — Henry David Thoreau, re the woods and fields around Concord, Massachusetts, written in his journal on 30 April 1852


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Where Have All The Flowers Gone? - Thursday, April 29, 2010

Readers of these postings know I have frequently asked: “Where have all the flowers gone?” This song from the sixties has been in my head a lot recently. I am not sure I understand the question fully and certainly do not have the answer. However, I do know where some of the flowers from my gardens around the house have gone. They went to my dear wife as we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary this week. The one purple flower in the middle of the bouquet represents the times when all was not the yellow and red flowers of joy. Many have called her a ‘saint’ for bearing with me all these years and I must agree.

Flowers come in all sizes and colors and some, like roses, with thorns. The main purpose of flowers seems to be providing beauty. They are a sign of joy at a wedding or a funeral. Once they are fully grown or picked they will eventually wilt and die. By being just flowers they deliver joy and beauty. Maybe this is why in a time of war and distress we ask: “Where have all the flowers gone”?


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Free At Last - Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tonight I resigned from a peace organization that, in my opinion, was all talk and politics as usual and no action or resistance. It was freeing experience. I felt like a burden has been lifted.

In politics, as in the garden, we can spend a lot of time doing things that are not productive or sustainable. In a garden this would mean using chemicals to offset other chemicals rather than nature to enhance nature. It could mean over-watering, or burning out grass or plants with too strong a fertilizer. In politics it could mean worrying about what others think rather than doing the right thing, or reaction rather than action, in-fighting rather that working together. In garden and politics, often the simple and straight forward approach is the best.

Recently I have been trying to live daily life with my priorities in mind, reflection, reading and writing; solidarity with and serving those in need; viewing life with prayer and gratitude.

Today in the yard I took soil I had made last year from behind the garage and spread some in the front yard garden, building five mounds for growing. In the empty space left by removing this homemade soil I will put some waste — cardboard pieces, wood chips, coffee grounds, vegetable waste — and start to build soil for next year. My wife thinks we should have a greater yield for all the work I do in the gardens. That may be true but it is the work not the results that is important.

In politics as in the garden it is the way we do things that is more important than the results. If we achieve our goal by hurting persons, misrepresenting ideas or greed, what does it matter? How we do things, working in the garden or in politics, is more important than the goal. It is that old saying that “war makes war” and never peace that is so true. The end does not justify the means and as Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see.”

It is that old balance between being and doing. The organization I resigned from might “do” a lot but being the way it is and its way of proceeding is not for me. Leaving it tonight as working in the garden today made me feel “Free, free, free at last.”


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Flowers, Going and Coming - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rain Garden Today

When I was on the Federal building plaza in Chicago yesterday, promoting the works of mercy over the works of war, a man walked by with a bouquet of fresh flowers. When I reached out to hand him a flyer about our nonviolent action his hands were full with the bouquet of flowers. I jokily said to him “Where are all the flowers going?” A while later he came back across the Federal plaza with a similar bouquet of flowers in his hands; but in this one the flowers were wilting. He explained that he took the bouquet of fresh flowers and replaced this one with it. This time I asked him: “Where have all the flowers gone?”

Today looking at the rain garden in our front yard I noticed the daffodils were on their way out, the tulips were coming into full bloom and the rest of the perennials in the rain garden were just green growing and “long time coming”. What is nice about the rain garden mix is that that in the spring, summer and fall there are always flowers coming in and going out of bloom.

Life is sometimes like the flower bouquets coming and going across the plaza, or the flowers in the rain garden. Some flowers of life are a long time coming, but there are always flowers going and coming. We just need to stop, see and smell the flowers.


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Hope in the Nonviolent Cow - Monday, April 26, 2010

A friend and I returned today from a Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat in the Chicago area. Three days of being with people close to the values of nature and the Holy One, people who live their values uncompromised is inspiring. Spending time with these persons action was like feeling a fresh breeze blowing on a warm night. These persons, young and old, children and adults, of various ethnic backgrounds and religions, male and female, farmers and urban dwellers can truly say “We are the ones we are looking for.” They are the Salad bowl friends that I frequently have spoken of.

This unity and support of persons was especially needed when one of the presenters, Chris Hedges, gave his realistic but scary view of the fall of the great militaristic empire of the United States. Mr. Hedges article, “We Stand on the Cusp of one of Humanity’s Most Dangerous Moments” is thefeatured article on the Like this article Mr. Hedges presented a bleak picture but left us pieces of a survival strategy for the times, like throwing cogs of resistance in the militarist machine or building sustainable communities to preserve our culture and values during these tough times.

One of Dorothy Day’s granddaughters was present and in a conversation after the presentation asked how we bear the burden of living in solidarity with all the suffering, death and depression in the world. I asked her, in return, “What would Dorothy Do”, or how would she keep going with her awareness of the dark side of life; her reply was ‘prayer’. We all mean different things by ‘prayer’ — formal prayers, meditation, silent awareness, but we all need the essence of prayer, dependence on Holy One, God or higher power.

I was frequently reminded of the words and actions of Peter Maurin, the co-founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. Peter had a vision of sustainable communities where farmers, workers and scholars come together for the ‘common good’.

The more I reflect on this weekend, and how we need the cogs of nonviolence, resistance, nonviolent action to slow down militarism, at the same time we must build sustainable communities to Grow Renewable Affordable Food and live in solidarity with persons in need all over the world.

More reflection, especially when I am not so tired as I am now, is needed on bringing these two forces together, resistance, the ‘nonviolent’ side of this web site, with growing power, the cow or worm side. Only by managing the sides of life as one, nonviolent and cow, can we hope for the future.


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Soil and Sun Therapy - Thursday, April 22, 2010

Woodland Sun Flowers in
good soil in the Rain Garden

I have been talking in these postings recently about Sun and Soil Therapy, where working with soil offers soil salvation, “proving to be nature’s fruitful way of cultivating your health — physically and psychologically.” Also many times I have talked how much better I feel on sunny days. Today I learned two pieces of information that verify the value of Sun and Soil Therapy.

On the way to a prayer vigil for a homicide victim I heard on public radio that scientists have discovered a gene in worms that give it great regeneration powers. Some worms can be cut into little piece and as long as this particular gene remains each piece will regenerate all the body parts of a worm — brain, digestion system etc. These worms theoretically are ageless as long as they receive the basics of food, water and air. This ancient gene is in some shadowy form in all animals including humans. Now we all know that worms live in therapeutic soil.

My doctor called today with the results of the blood test at my annual checkup. He told me that he had good news and to get a pen to write down some numbers. I said if it’s good news why do I need to write down anything? He said to write the numbers down in case I want to brag about them. The cholesterol and sugar levels were all good, but my Vitamin D levels were low. I do not remember the Doctor checking my Vitamin D levels before, but got a hint of it at the checkup when his resident assistant asked me about Vitamin D. He told me that Vitamin D comes from the Sun. So today when my Doctor asked me if I knew how to get more Vitamin D I said, go out in the sun and work in the garden. What he really was suggesting, however, is to take Vitamin D pills, which I will also do. However, now that I am working in the garden on an almost daily basis and the sun has been out, I am really feeling much better and know my Vitamin D levels are rising.

Today is Earth Day, a good day to talk about Sun and Soil Therapy. This therapy works best with a simple and reflective lifestyle. Thus, the next three days I am going on a Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat which should give me plenty of time to absorb in my system all the healing sun and soil that has blessed my life recently. The Diary of the Worm postings will return Monday eve.


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Simple Worms - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Digging up the soil in the front yard vegetable garden I noticed there were a lot of worms, fishing worm size, in the soil. This is a good sign since it means the neighborhood worms are being drawn to the box by the good compost nature of the soil. One good-sized worm had a tiny baby worm hanging out of one end. At first I though this was unusual, but then I realized that I was witnessing the baby worm just being born from an adult worm. Worms are hermaphrodites, both sexes in one animal, and this worm was just doing what comes naturally to it, reproducing.

Besides reproducing, what comes naturally to worms is renewal of the earth. Worms are simple animals, basically eating the compost in the soil at one end, and transforming it into organic rich soil and casting it out the other end. “The most common worm is the earthworm, a member of phylum Annelida. Earthworms in general have been around for 120 million years, and are theorized to have evolved during the time of the dinosaurs. They enrich and aerate the soil; Charles Darwin found that worms turn over the top six inches (15 cm) of topsoil every 20 years.”

Eating and reproducing are natural to worms. They live a simple life. No wonder they have been around since the days of the dinosaurs.


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Doing Nothing Is Something - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today I spent some of my day at a prayer sharing session at the house of a friend who is in hospice care. We spend most of the time just saying “where we are at”. It is in this group that the idea of ‘wasting time with God’ came up. One of the persons in the group, who is a poet, told us about a poem he is writing about ‘waste’. My friend, who is dying but feeling fairly good, spoke about how the group is for ‘healing’. Medical persons cure persons but healing is done with nature and friends. At the end of the session, I opened my “The Little Book of Archbishop Romero” and saw this quote which was right for the session. “We must save not the soul at the hour of death but the person living in history.”

Another good part of my day was spent having lunch with a friend and then driving him out to visit his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The women who live in this residence basically sit around the TV room and smile at everyone. My friend’s mother seems to remember him but not me. I just joke with her that I am her substitute son or her son’s driver. She gets the joke and smiles. While my friend and his mother went off to her room for something I sat in the sun room and started to read a new book: “Freedom Made Flesh” by Ignacio Ellacuria S.J., one of the Jesuit martyrs in El Salvador. In the introduction he states God is revealed in history “not directly but in a sign: humanity in history.” On the way back, my friend, who is elderly himself, started talking about how he is seeing life in a whole new perspective. That fit in well with my constant prayer to have “eyes to see and ears to hear.”

Also today our group “Breaking the Silence”, which is just getting ready to talk about doing a nonviolent action but has done nothing yet, won a small victory.

To some talking with and listening to others about where they are at, visiting an elderly woman with little memory, or being in group for nonviolent action not doing anything, is not doing much. I have to admit that is true. But often doing nothing is something.


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Healing Soil - Monday, April 19, 2010

Healing Garden

After driving myself to the doctor’s today for an annual checkup, I dropped by Marna’s house. There I found Dawn, the other partner with Marna in the DMZ community garden. Dawn and Marna are the D and M of the DMZ community garden. The three of us went over to the DMZ garden but I was not of much help in the garden since I had not planned to work in the DMZ today and had a few errands to run. Being too busy to work in the DMZ garden bothered me some but there is always another day and Marna and Dawn are good at getting help in the garden.

Although the DMZ garden produces food (as mine does), I see the DMZ (as my garden) as a great source of healing, or, as I call it, Sun and Soil Therapy. That medical fact was brought home to me again today in the local news when another local hospital talked about building a ‘healing garden’. The spokesperson said how it was a proved medical fact that nature can be healing.

Sometime ago on the Featured Article site I placed an article about the healing effects of soil. It is called Nature’s Bounty Soil Salvation. It talks about how studies have shown that certain strains of soil-borne mycobacteria in the soil sharply stimulated the human immune system.

Tomorrow I am going to the home of a friend who is dying and in hospice, for a faith sharing gathering. When I checked with him today, he asked if I could bring over some enriched soil, with castings, compost and worms. He cannot leave his house, but would like to see his work with flowers and vegetables around the house continue. I do not expect any miracles for my friend but I will bring over some healing soil.


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Waiting For Nothing - Sunday, April 18, 2010

This talk about waste in these postings recently and the talk about universal principles in the April 14th posting Structure Speaks, recalled an ‘easy essay’ I wrote for a paper while taking a course in the Wisdom Literature of the Bible back in the 90’s. It is a good thought for these days when I spend a lot of time waiting for persons at Doctor’s appointments and find my ‘political writings’ on war and peace being ignored. It also goes well for the few hours today when my wife and I wasted time on our backyard deck planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. This essay, “Waiting for Nothing” is testimony to another universal principle that all we need to know is already within us.

I find myself waiting again,
This time in an emergency room
Of a Hospital with my father.

A familiar experience,
The last few years
Waiting in court with my son,
Waiting in the hospital with my mom or dad
Waiting in the service agency
For my son.

My parents and my son,
Both sides of my generation
The last four years
Have been repeating the same patterns
That brings me to this place of waiting
Over and Over again.

In fact,
I have been in this same small emergency room
With my Father three times the last few years.
I could be home doing this paper,
I could be preparing for my meeting tomorrow
Or Tuesday or the retreat for youth next week.


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Being With Waste Can Lead To Better Sight - Saturday, April 17, 2010

Worm Depository
Waste to Sight

I did the Uncle Bob’s Growing Power Worm Magic Show today at the Resource Fair at our Church today. The magic show is designed to explain to children how to recycle waste, banana peels, leaves etc into organic soil that sustains plants. What nature takes weeks to do with the help of worms and Growing Power magic I do in about 10 min. The audience today was adults but they enjoyed it.

After a day of sustainability at the Resource Fair I went home and started to work in my garden. I was moving waste around near the worm depository (mound of compost for worms to live) when I came across a pair of glasses that I lost last fall. When I lost these fairly new glasses I was very upset and never spent the money to replace them. My eyesight is not very bad but I was delighted today to find these glasses in the waste. It will mean better sight.

In my show today at the church I was reminded of the bible sayings that the last should be first and the least, even worms or waste, will be great. Sometimes when I am praised, rejected or ignored for doing and saying what I believe, I remind myself that it is the message of my life not the messenger, weak or strong as I may be, that is important. Being with the marginalized, rejected and waste of the world can lead to better sight.


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Solidarity In The Garden of Life - Friday, April 16, 2010

Solidarity in a garden
in Burundi

Yesterday when I was telling my spiritual director about my new role of driving friends in need of a ride to appointments he told me to reflect on the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel. This is a story where a man attacked by bandits is left half-dead on the road. A ‘priest’ and a Levite, two significant persons in the Jewish faith, see him but, in a hurry, pass him by. A Samaritan, a non-Jew foreigner, sees the man and is moved with compassion and helps the man in distress. Jesus tells this parable when he is asked by a scribe, another Jewish official, what is the most basic commandment in life.

Today a friend called saying she had an injury and needed to see her doctor. At the clinic I met someone I knew when I was a youth minister some years back. This woman, a mother of one of the youth, despite suffering from a debilitating illness and being poor, was and is a very giving person. In our conversation in the waiting room she told me the story how she drove by a disabled homeless man and felt compelled to drive around the block to help the person. She gave him some food she had in the car and the little money she had on her. The man took her hand in thanks and their eyes met. She felt a feeling she had never experienced. She felt something happened to her at that moment that changed her life.

After she went to her appointment and I was still waiting for my other friend, I started to read an article on Evangelization by Father Moreno S.J., one of the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador. He uses this same parable of the Samaritan to explain the meaning of solidarity. The ‘priest’ and Levite saw the man in the road but their way of looking was not enough for them to stop. The Samaritan saw the injured man, he explains, in a compassionate way; he identified with the pain and passion of the suffering man. By his way of seeing with the eyes of compassion he was compelled to be in solidarity with the injured person and to assist him. Father Moreno S.J., who gave his own life in solidarity with the poor of El Salvador, says this solidarity with the poor and suffering is at the heart of evangelization.

This afternoon working in the gardens around my house, I kept thinking about these experiences and this article. Coming into the house I tried to find an electronic copy of the article, even contacting a Jesuit from El Salvador. The article I read is in a paperback book that is in a library book that is past due. I have not found one yet but when I do or make one, I will put it on the Featured Articles.

Concepts like “preferential option for the poor”, solidarity and evangelization are, like seeds planted in the garden, beginning to take root in my life and grow in the garden of everyday life.


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Tax Day Blues - Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today is Tax day. Our Federal and State Tax forms are due. Despite taxes being lower this year than they have been since before the Bush years, people, especially the so called ‘Tea Party’, are still protesting higher taxes. They protest high taxes and deficits, yet never mention the fact that 53% of our Federal Tax dollars go for war. They protest government programs for the common good that cost millions but ignore war spending that costs billions and trillions.

However, the Tea Party does capture an anger that is building up in this country, the feeling that we the people are powerless over our own destiny as a country. Liberals blame conservatives and conservatives blame liberals. Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans. Everyone blames big media.

In fact, in my opinion, we the people are our own worst enemies. We are the enemy as Pogo reminded us.

I did two things today to express this opinion. On the positive side I worked a few hours outside on our home gardens, especially the rain garden. On the negative side I wrote an open letter to my congressperson who once again distracted us from holding her accountable for her war spending votes. I say positive for one, since I think my quiet work in the garden did more good than my negative act of writing this letter, which appears below.

But is this not the spirit of Tax Day, to watch 47% of our Federal tax dollar go to building America and the people while 53% goes for war and killing people? April 15th, Tax Day, reminds us of where our priorities in life are and where they should be. Being my own worst enemy gives me the Tax Day Blues.

Check out this open letter to Rep. Gwen Moore. Have you told your congresspersons No Moore War Spending?


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Structure Speaks - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sound Wave by Jean Shin

Making observations, as I try to do daily in this Diary of the Worm, I have noticed there are some universal principles and truths. One I first observed when I was a youth minister was that youth learn from the structure just as much, if not more, than from what you teach them. For example, you can say to them over and over again how important religious education is, but if it is reduced just to a 1 ½ hour class every two weeks for a six months of the year, they learn from that structure that religious education is not very important.

This principle applies to politics. Politicians say a lot of things, but from what they do, or fail to do, we learn where they stand. For example, almost all Democratic politicians say they support the Regional Transit Authority bill that would Save Our Buses. Yet they have postponed bringing the bill to a vote until this last week of the session. If they do not vote on the bill in the next eight days the bill will die and will need to start over again next year in the legislature. There are a number of other bills like this one that Democrats say they support, but which will probably die for this legislature year.

A garden that is well organized and features sustainable growing gives out a loud and clear message. A society that glorifies violence and war in the media sends a clearer message about violence and war than anything someone says.

People are sometimes quick to see service as a value but slow to hear the message of the structures that make the service necessary. A Latin American religious leader commented some years ago: “When I give bread to the poor the call me a saint; when I ask why the poor are hungry they call me a communist.” Structure speaks.


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Holy Waste - Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Holy Cow Waste in India

I was invited today to a prayer service at a friend’s home who is in hospice care. As we were sharing our reflections, one of the participants recalled a saying about “wasting time with God”. With all my talk on these posting about ‘waste’ I found this interesting. I started to think about these recent reflections, especially the one on Waste Management. I guess wasting time with God could be called Holy Waste.

I knew some of the participants and some I did not. One of the things I did realize is that all six of the participants had, at one time or another been in the seminary or in the religious life. Only one, a religious sister, remained so, but at some point in their sharing all, except me, had mentioned experience in the seminary or religious life. But I too had been a student in the Society of Jesus, a religious order, for a number of years after high school.

When I mentioned this observation someone asked me what it meant. I said I did not know, it was just an observation. Perhaps God knows the meaning of this observation but for me making it was enough. In this case what it means really does not matter or add to or subtract from the observation.

Without interpretation this observation, the common connection of seminary and religious life formation, might be a waste, but maybe a Holy Waste.


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Cost of No Dumping - Monday, April 12, 2010

The vacant lot that became
DMZ community garden

Going to the City Dump today to pick up wood chips for compost and mulch, I noticed a long line of cars waiting to get in. I thought that was strange, since usually there are no cars waiting during the week. As I approached the gate I noticed that the delay was due to a new security system for getting into the city dump. There were now three checkpoint to get into the dump. Signs reported that there was a $15 charge for dumping “construction material” in the dump. Since I was just there to pick up waste, wood chips, I did not have to pay. However, I asked the woman at the second checkpoint what it would cost me if I had brought material to the dump. She said yard waste would not cost me but other material might, depending on what they were.

The city contracts to Waste Management, the largest waste company in the USA to haul away material from the site and to recycle it as possible. Waste Management gets paid to haul away the waste and then gets money from turning some of the waste into useful products, like fertilizer, energy, materials for bottles etc. Since Waste Management gets paid twice on the material I figured the new fee was just another way for the city to tax us, especially the poor who cannot pay someone to haul away material, without saying they are rising our taxes.

But a report on the TV news tonight makes me question the wisdom of this new policy of charging to dump waste in the dump. The news report was on the increased dumping of waste on the thousands of vacant city lots that cover our neighborhoods, especially in low income areas. Contractors and individuals are just dumping waste into these lots, though they have signs saying not to do so. This makes the vacant lots unattractive and dangerous for children in the area. Now the city, if it does not catch the offender, has to pay companies thousands of dollars to clean up just one of these vacant lots.

I am hoping that the city does not charge me for the ‘free wood chips’, I now get from the city dump. I have proposed and seen some small progress in turning the thousands of vacant lots owned by the city into community gardens like what was done with the DMZ community garden. I can see “no dumping” on these vacant lots but “no dumping” without pay at the city seems too costly.


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Touch the Wounds - Sunday, April 11, 2010

Child wounded in bombing
of Gaza

The Gospel read this morning at our religious service was the one in which the apostle Thomas missed an earlier appearance of the Resurrected Jesus and said he would have to touch and feel the wounds of Jesus to believe he had resurrected from the dead. Jesus appeared to his disciples again and this time Thomas was present. Jesus told Thomas to touch and feel the wounds in his hands and side. Thomas did and became a believer.

I like this Gospel story because it reminds me how often we doubt the presence and power of God, but when tragedy strikes, when we feel and touch the wounds of life, we suddenly become believers. Sometimes it takes some direct experience of pain and suffering, or at times by solidarity with others, to grasp the significance of our faith in the resurrected Jesus, to believe that dying and death will end in resurrection and new life.

After being stuck in traffic driving a friend to visit his mother in an assisted living place outside of Milwaukee I had a chance to work in the garden and get some Soil and Sun therapy. The frustration of being delayed in traffic was released in working with soil under the sun. The Soil and Sun therapy is healing for the wounds of daily life.

I received another email today from a good, well-intentioned ‘peace liberal’ trying to avoid holding our Congressperson accountable for war spending. Again this person misrepresented our actions to hold the congressperson accountable and then attacked the misrepresentation. I have answered these false accusations over and over again and probably should just let this one go. However, these wounds of the truth must be challenged, however be it in a loving and respectful way.

What I find most difficult about these ‘liberal peace’ persons who try to justify war spending by liberal politicians or tax cuts harming the poor is that they do not seem to feel the wounds of war and of neglect of the poor. When we support war spending and allow our congresspersons to support more war spending and neglect persons in need we are causing wounds and deaths to our brothers and sisters in the military, in Iraq, Afghanistan and the USA. Real people are suffering real wounds. Like Thomas we need to touch and feel the wounds to believe.

Technology and mass communications have, in my opinion, desensitized us. Making a congressperson publicly accountable for voting for an 82 billion supplementary war spending bill is called showing “a lack of public decency.” The insanity of violence and war seems to be the new norm for sanity.

I suffer a curse and blessing that when I am true to myself I feel a small part of the pain, death and destruction that war spending and neglect of those in need causes. To avoid touching the wounds I sometimes get angry, get busy hoping the wounds will go away, or like many persons do, just ignore the wounds. But like Thomas all these methods do not walk and the only thing to do is to touch the wounds and believe in the hope of the resurrection and new life.


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Waste Management - Saturday, April 10, 2010

People looking for good waste
in the dump in Guatamala City
Buried in Guatemala

Learning about waste is important to life. We need to learn how to manage waste. There is good waste and bad waste. Compost, waste products like kitchen scraps, leaves, wood chips, and coffee grounds is good waste and when fed to worms become good organic soil. Styrofoam makes for bad waste since it is a non organic, non-recyclable material.

There is good and bad waste of time. Working in the garden, my Soil and Sun therapy today, some would say is a waste of time, since the amount of food the garden will produce is no way equal to the time, money and energy I will spend on the garden. However, I can truly say this, that for me, this is a good waste of time. All the time I spent tonight trying to get my DVD player connected properly was a bad waste of time. I did not figure it out this time. There were many better things I could have done with this time and, even if I had managed to figure it out, the experience was frustrating and a waste.

Spending time communicating with a person that does not truly listen and has his or her mind made up is a waste of time. This goes for many meetings where people talk and talk but do nothing. On the other hand listening to a friend in need, giving advice or a helping hand is a good use, not a waste, of time. This goes for many meetings and conversations where people talk, reflect and act.

Subsequently, the time I spend reacting to a person and message by talking in person, phone or email is a waste of time. Yet responding honestly and humbly to a person and message by talking in person, phone or email is often not a waste of time.

‘Being wasted’ usually refers to a person that is drunk or high on drugs. Yet being wasted can be good if we mean that we have tried our best and now leave the matter in hands of God or others. I always felt that just like “Blessed are the poor”, “Blessed are the wasted” can mean those who have surrendered themselves to a Higher Being and are thus blessed.

Today was a day of waste. I worked with the waste of compost, wasted time trying to get a DVD player working, talked with a friend who was wasted and exhausted by a family crisis, my body was uplifted by the sun and soil yet felt wasted, tired and a little sickly tonight. Learning about waste certainly is not a waste. Waste management is important.


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Wisdom of Age - Friday, April 09, 2010

When I first learned about use of worms in growing from Growing Power some years ago I was fascinated and thought I had learned something new and dynamic. However, over the years, especially visiting Guatemala and India, I have learned that using worm castings is an ancient and traditional way to enhance growing.

As I become older, I learn more and more that there is “not much new under the sun”, as they say. With this knowledge my respect for elders, people who have come before me and struggled for some of the same issues, like peace and justice, has grown. Also my appreciation of history has grown. There is so much we can learn from the past and, if we do not learn it, we are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Now that I am a near elder, at 67 years of age, I am finding that young people today do not have as much respect for elders and past as I do. Maybe this is the way it always has been, but the disrespect and neglect of young persons, particularly in the peace and justice community, does bother me.

There was an incident today in an email exchange with a young person, who considers himself to be a leader and organizer in the local peace movement. Fortunately I had a chance to get some sun and soil therapy today, working in the garden, so that the brashness and disrespect of this young person did not bother me as much as it could have.

Also today a friend, close in age, an almost near elder, had some surgery in the hospital. I was trying to think of a “get well message” to send him and thought I would send out an email of a web page that has his pledge for No Moore War Spending on it. This friend is passionate about peace and justice but is wise enough to know that in some small way we can make a difference and not to ‘dismiss’ persons he does not agree with, as so many persons do. So I sent out an email for my friend with a request to sign the pledge he seeks at No Moore War Spending.

I guess one thing you learn with age is that persistent effort pays off and that although one might not change the world, we can make a difference with a change of heart, one person at a time. The wisdom of age knows, like my friend, that one person can make a difference.


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Breaking The Silence - Thursday, April 08, 2010

Some years ago when the priest abuse scandal in the Catholic Church first broke I was working for a Catholic Church as a youth minister. The USA Catholic Bishops were quick to respond but something seemed to be missing for me in their response. Now that the scandal has come again I could see what I felt was missing and wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about it last week. Since the last time I published a ‘letter to the editor’ on this site it was published the next day in the newspaper, I decided this time to wait a week. I am afraid this time it will not get published, but I think that it is an important message about ‘breaking the silence’, which applies to many other issues. So here it is on the Diary of the Worm.

Dear Editor,

It is sad to see the leaders of the Catholic Church revert to the political tactic of misrepresenting criticism of their actions and then, as our former Archbishop did last Sunday, attacking their own misrepresentation. What we really need in the Catholic Church today is for the Bishops and Vatican to confess to their own sins of silence and ignoring the sex abuse scandal until it became public.

When the scandal broke some years ago the American bishops were quick to rid the church of priest accused, rightly or wrongly, in child abuse and to work on preventive measures for future child abuse. That was good but without full public disclosure of their own silence or neglect in the abuse there can never be real truth and reconciliation.

It is time for the American Bishops and the Vatican to break the silence of the past, to open up all records on this abuse to the public and to admit any sins of silence or neglect. Victims of clergy abuse are not looking for vengeance or to spread ‘petty gossip’ or false accusations. They are simply seeking the truth and to break the silence that still plagues our beloved Church and prevents true Truth and Reconciliation.


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Thank You Buddha - Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Buddha under the Bohi Tree

Tonight watching the PBS show Buddha I was struck about how many thoughts of the Buddha have entered my awareness: thoughts on “The Middle Way”; “question of why we suffer”; “Enlightenment”; “Inner Peace”; “Mindfulness” and many more. Buddha believed and practiced that deep peace and holiness was to be found in each one of us, in the ordinary of human life.

If you asked the Buddha how to obtain all these wonderful insights like inner peace and enlightenment, he would say the way is “meditation”. Buddha sat underneath a Bohi tree meditating until he received an answer to his question of why there was such suffering or dissatisfaction in life. Demon gods tried to distract him from his mission. He remained firm and finally found enlightenment. He could have rested with this new-found discovery of inner peace but decided to go out to spread it to others, no matter how difficult that might be.

This reminder of how to focus on the present and find peace in everyday life came to me at a good moment. I started off the day not feeling really well and the first thing I had to do was go to the dentist. At a long luncheon conversation at a vegetarian Indian restaurant with a friend I realized more how my life was full of unnecessary distractions and self-imposed suffering. A phone conversation with a mental health case supervisor gave me opportunity for more frustration. But I said no and went out to do an errand, pick up prescriptions for a friend and come home to make some pinto bean and ham soup. Not much of today was on my “to do list after Easter” but I must have been anticipating the ‘Buddha’ show since I started to watch it “tired” but not anxious or distracted.

Thank you Buddha for reminding me that all we need to know to live a life of peace and satisfaction is already within us.


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Healing in Illness - Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It was dark and cloudy today but that did not stop me from clipping through my “to do after Easter” list. However, around mid afternoon I felt sick to my stomach and that did stop me. It is hard to work when you are feeling sick. Sickness reminds me of family and friends who despite suffering long term illnesses manage to keep smiling and stay kind and considerate.

I remember my younger sister Carol whose cancer treatment left her sick and with nausea for years before she died. She kept bringing joy to the lives of others until the end. Today I called my friend who is going in for cancer surgery at the end of this week. For him it is more the fear of having his life cut short. He works so hard at his job and for peace and justice that it brings meaning to his life and others. Two other of my present friends suffer from constant pain and illnesses.

All this reflecting on pain and illnesses does not make my stomach feel better but it helps me be aware of the blessings of health that I enjoy.

In the mail I received The Little Book of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a man of El Salvador who knew much suffering and was a ‘voice for the voiceless’. ‘The Little Book’ is 4 by 3 inches and is full of thoughts and quotes from Archbishop Romero, who was killed by the military 30 years ago for speaking out for the oppressed. I remembered the testimony of the ‘Co Madres’, mothers of the missing in El Salvador, woman who were tortured terribly by the military forces the US supported in the long civil war in El Salvador.

How people can suffer from illnesses, pain or torture and still remain hopeful not vengeful persons amazes me. Now that is a thought that is healing even in illness.


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Actions Not Words - Monday, April 05, 2010

Action in the DMZ
Community Garden

Tonight while watching the NCAA Championship basketball game on TV, I wrote a long response to an old friend who has challenged our efforts to hold Rep. Gwen Moore accountable for her support of money for war. (See No More War Spending ) I wrote the response as one final effort to raise awareness of the direction that Peace Action of WI is taking. In my mind it is away from being a meaningful organization for taking nonviolent action on peace and justice issues. I am afraid that without a turnaround from words to actions at Peace Action I will need to resign.

There is too much else that has more meaning to me than to always try to defend one’s actions, values and beliefs. If I was truly a nonviolent person I would let false accusations, misrepresentations and distractions from real issues slide off of me like water off a duck. Clearly I am not there yet.

Watching the basketball game while writing this letter gave me an excuse for spending so much time on it. However, this was not true for the rest of the day. So this morning I wrote a long list of things I said I would do ‘after Easter’ and during most of the day made some headway on the list, at least in some of the important ones, like cleaning the house and working on the gardens outside.

Last week I wrote a very brief “letter to the editor” about the ‘clergy sex scandal.’ That letter came from the heart and was quickly written. If the newspaper does not publish it in a day or two I will put it on . This letter of a couple hundred words was probably worth more than the one tonight of a couple thousands of words.

Easter calls for action and fewer words as I write more words about words. Back to the garden tomorrow I go. In the garden actions not words count.


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Face of Jesus in Child - Sunday, April 04, 2010

Face of Jesus
Buried in Guatemala

I have heard it said that if you want to be creative play with children, who are naturally creative. For a while today I was left in the living room with my three grandchildren, three of their cousins and about 5 Muppet puppets, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, a bear and dog. After a few minutes of playing around we developed a Muppet Idol contest. Three of the children became the idol judges and the rest sang songs from behind the couch in the character of their Muppet. Following the Idol script the judges praised all the performances of the Muppets and sent them “on to Hollywood.” We went on to the second round where one of the cousins automatically became very quiet in singing his song for his Muppet. The three judges noted this but his excuse was that he had ‘stage fright’. About this time adults came filtering into the living room and slowly children lost interest in this game. We went on to the egg hunt outside where adults had provided lots of plastic eggs with candy and money inside.

In between the food, conversation and the play of 22 children and adults over for Easter, my 10 year old grandson and I managed to finish watching the rest of the video on the The Real Face of Jesus. The face extrapolated by computers from the Shroud of Turin was of one bloodied by torture yet it had a certainly dignity about it. One could only imagine the beauty and innocent of that person as a child.

Looking for a picture of a child to reflect the face of Jesus I recalled a picture of a child I took on Good Friday in Guatemala a few years ago. I had been watching the stations of the cross with her and her family when, after the stations passed over one of the street decorations, street carpets, made of fruit, vegetables and flowers, the children in our group all ran up the block. I wondered what was happening but when the children came back with fruits and vegetables I knew what had just happened. After the procession passed over an alfombra (street carpet) the children were allowed to take the fruit and vegetables. As I described in Buried in Guatemala. “The parents and all of the family were overjoyed with the bounty brought back by the children. The parents and elders stuffed some of the vegetables and fruit in bags they had brought with them and the children were allowed to eat pieces of watermelon and other fruit.” One of the girls showed me the pineapple she had snatched from the street carpet and was overjoyed. This is the face of Jesus, the face of this child.


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Time In Between - Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tomb of Jesus, inside
the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre, Jerusalem.

The time is near. Some seeds are planted and we wait for them to rise. Some seeds need to be planted, suffer a death, in order to grow. Some seeds, especially early spring flowers, are up and blooming. Spring is here and summer is near.

This is the time in between. Yesterday we celebrated Good Friday, the death of Jesus, and tomorrow we celebrate Easter Sunday, the resurrection from the dead of Jesus.

This is the time to wait. People make false accusations and misrepresent truths but rather than react we wait to respond. Poor and blessed persons know how to wait.

This is the time to begin anew. The dead of winter is past and spring is happening.

Most of life is spent in waiting, in between dying and rising, near but not quite there.

Quite often this week I have said I will do something starting Monday, after Easter Sunday. Certainly I will not do all I have said I will do, but it is necessary sometimes to live in Holy Saturday, feeling the death and waiting for the resurrection. If we can find peace and joy in this time in between, we can find peace and joy anytime.


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Good Friday Thanks - Friday, April 02, 2010

Cross from El Salvador

Today is Good Friday, when we remember the death of Jesus. In my essay on Buried In Guatemala I point out that Good Friday, honoring the crucified Christ, is the major feast day in Central America, bigger than Easter and even Christmas. Looking at the repression, suffering and rejection the people of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries in Central America have endured I can better understand why this holy day is so celebrated.

The cross of Jesus is a paradox. It is a symbol of death, violence and torture. Yet in light of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday, the cross becomes a symbol of nonviolence and hope. From the resurrection of Jesus we know that life conquers death.

What we in the USA often forget and the people of Central America know so well, is that the cross comes before the resurrection. Those who suffer poverty, repression and rejection receive the blessings of the Resurrection. It is only being in solidarity with the poor and suffering that we can participate in the resurrection of Jesus. We often forget that Jesus died on the cross disgraced, betrayed, abandoned and denied, even by most of his own disciples. In the Gospel Jesus died on the cross rejected by all, except his mother, his youngest disciple and a few women followers.

A friend, who is behind the pledge drive No Moore Money For War, sent me the following quote which says how we all at times deny the Resurrection of Christ when we fail to see the suffering and oppression of others and by our silence allow more money for war spending to ruin earth and human lives. He writes:


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April Fool’s in the Wind! - Thursday, April 01, 2010

I report to you today, April 1st, that all wars in the world have ended and that peace reigns throughout the earth. So now you know today is April Fool’s day. You might say to me “Go fly a kite”. Well you would be correct. Today, April 1st, my wife, grandson, granddaughter and I went to the lake front to fly a kite. My granddaughter assisted my wife, and I assisted by grandson. At first we failed. We blamed the lack of wind. But all of sudden my wife and my grandson had their kites flying high and proud. We gave thanks to the wind.

Wind, which in the bible is the same word as spirit, is a strange thing. We do not see it yet feel it. We do not know when it blows but are glad or sad when it does. A gentle breeze on a hot day can be comforting. A strong wind on a cold day can be discomforting. One of my favorite expressions comes from the song “Blowin’ in the Wind” and is: “The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” This Bob Dylan song has meant a lot to me. As Jesus says to Nicodemus in the Gospel; “The wind blows where it pleases, you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 8)

In this blessed Holy Week I pray that we all enjoy a windfall of hope so that someday I can say April Fool’s by saying “the world is full of war and violence reigns throughout the earth.” You still might respond “Go fly a kite” and you would still be correct.


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