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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

Click below to read any post in full.

Pilgrimage - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brian on 6th street bridge
dividing South from North

My friend Brian and I ended April with our 5.2 mile pilgrimage from the office of the Archbishop to the office of the President of Marquette. We called it the Works of Mercy over the Works of War walk. We were asking the Archbishop to do the works of mercy with 1.1 million dollars in church funds resulting from sale of properties in Milwaukee poorest and most segregated area of the City, North Central Milwaukee. On the other end we delivered a letter asking the President of Marquette to Stop Teaching War and Killing on campus at Marquette.

At the Archbishop’s office we could only leave the letter with receptionist. At the entrance administration office at Marquette, Brian, who is not banned as I, ran into security guards and an aide to President who took letter. There was no media and we maybe we did not accomplished much. But we did what we thought should be done and felt satisfied.

At this morning faith sharing session the question was “What can be done?” It was a question from life of Dorothy Day who enjoyed reading the Great Russian authors who asked this question in their novels. We really did not have any answers but we all agreed that we need to follow our conscience as best we can. Dorothy Day’s answer to this question was to do the “Works of Mercy” and resist the “Works of War.”

Talking about what in conscience we believe and still not doing it sometimes can be too much even for friends. I was talking this morning to a friend I greatly admired about the three recent police shooting of persons with mental illnesses. She seemed to be defending the police so, as like a kid, I started to take the viewpoint of the ill person and their family and friends. She did not want to hear this and so dismissed my comments and we went on. Something similar happened at the end of faith sharing today when someone asked me about the 1.1 million we are trying to get to serve the poor. One member of our group said we should not be talking about this anymore. So again I stopped.
However, today when we were taking a position with our walk there was no need to talk about what we were doing. We both knew the statements we were making by our walk from Archbishop’s office to the office of the President of the University and there was no need to talk about it. Instead we had a nice walk through an area of the city my friend was familiar with and I was not. I got to know where the record shops, bars and comic book stores were and was not in this historical part of town, Bay View and Near South Side area.

Tomorrow is the May 1st Immigration Walk in Milwaukee which calls for fair and just immigration reform. It will be much larger than our two person walk but will it have more results, outside of news coverage. Maybe so, but for me the pilgrimage of the Works of Mercy over the Works of War was enough walking for the week


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Care for the Young - Monday, April 29, 2013

Carolee on First Communion day

Here is Sunday’s posting on Monday. I should be caught up by tomorrow eve.

Yesterday I went to my son and his family’s house to attend the 1st Communion of my granddaughter, Carolee. The celebration of reception of Eucharist was nice but one of benefits of the day was that seven of her cousins from her mother’s, my daughter-in-law side, were present. They were ranged in age from 2–15 including my godson, Tristin, who is 4 years old. Just being around 10 young person’s was a inspiriting experience although I could not keep up with some of their play, tackle football and bouncing on a trampoline.

It reminded once again why Jesus who asked us to remember him by sharing his body and blood, bread and win, told us that we must be like a child to enter into the Kingdom of God. Children are full of innocence and are straight forward and honest in what they say and do.

My godson’s mother told me that Tristan, 4, was asking her when he would next see “my grandpa”. At first she wondered who he meant her father or her husband’s father. He kept on insisting he wanted to see “my grandpa” not anyone else’s. Finally she figured out he was talking about me, his godfather. His brothers and sisters often call me “Grandpa Bob” but he knows of our unique bond so I am “my grandpa.” As I was leaving the house to drive back to Milwaukee Tristan walked me to the car. I told him to visit sometime this summer after he was out of school. He said he would tell his mother and do that. His sister, Elizabeth is 2 and my wife’s goddaughter. We have lots of ties to our grandchildren’s cousins. It feels like having 13 grandchildren at times when they are all around.

However, I need to realize that like my two grandson and a few of the older cousins, they will grow up. They will still be wonderful human persons but sadly lose some of that edge of imagination and innocence that young children possess.

Watching my grandchildren and their cousins grow up is great but also there is the heartache of know there are so many young children in our city and around the world that will not get the benefits of growing up in such a loving family environment. This experience renews my spirit as we go into the pilgrimage of Works Mercy over Works of War tomorrow.

Children teach us so much and bring us such great blessings that to be truly human beings, we need to care for the young.


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Forgot But DMZ Gardens Grow - Sunday, April 28, 2013

DMZ 2, Back Yard Garden
behind homicide victim memorial

Yesterday was a great day for writing on this posting. Dawn and Marna, founders of DMZ gardens had a party for the opening of DMZ garden 3, The Orchard and DMZ garden 4, The Healing Garden. DMZ 2, Back Yard garden was created last year and of course the original DMZ, the only one I was involved in, as Z, was the first one, DMZ 1, now called the Perennial garden. All four DMZ community gardens are within a few blocks of each other in what is called the Brochert Field District, the area of the original “Brewers” minor league ball park.

However, I forgot to write the posting and remember just when I was getting in bed. I decided to postpone the posting till tonight and today’s until tomorrow if I remember.

I met Dawn in 2008 or 2009 when a group of us were helping her build a porch on one of the houses she owns and rent living spaces and provides care for persons with mental illnesses. She is a strong woman and hard worker with a great sense of humor. I met Marna about the same time at one of the prayer vigils for homicide victims. She was one of the three mothers who founded Mothers Against Gun Violence when all three woman had lost their sons to a man with a gun he probably would not have if there be universal background checks for all gun sales. Marna has a number of major illnesses but somehow keeps on going and giving to the community.

About the same time I had an interest in Growing Power and was establishing my old home gardens. I found out that Marna and Dawn both had an interest in gardening and Dawn owned a vacant lot. So after I introduced Dawn and Marna to each other the three of us, with the help of friends and Growing Power developed the first DMZ gardens.

The garden is in a community with high homicide rate so the DMZ, D for Dawn, M for Marna and Z, because my initials did not fit, came naturally. I noticed in the new brochure Dawn gave me the slogan for the DMZ gardens is “From Trigger Fingers, To Green Thumbs”.

After a year or so I faded away from active participation in DMZ gardens and last year, with other community members and Growing Power developed the second garden, now called the Backyard garden.

When I went to take a picture of this garden, baron for now, I noticed a freshly marked tree memorial for recent homicide victim. (See picture of DMZ 2 on side and DMZ 1, 3 and 4, as of last Saturday below.

I feel blessed bring these two wonderful woman together with the community and with the magic and wonder of God’s growing power they will grow. In fact, DMZ 5, Rebecca’s Cat Garden, “an outdoor cat refuge” is in the planning stages. With Dawn and Marna and all the community people that are participating in the gardens, with blessings of nature and God, they can say: “Together We Are Growing Power.”


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Guatemala: Deep in Suffering and Joy of Life - Friday, April 26, 2013

The weather was nice again today. This is a good sign that spring is here to stay. As the weather gets warmer I think of my experiences traveling in Latin America. The first country I was blessed to visit was Guatemala during Holy Week in April 2007. The spirit of the people, the suffering and joy of the people and the continual oppression has stayed with me. My pictorial essay Buried in Guatemala continues to be one of the most viewed pages on this web site.

With all the talk about the long overdue trial of General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, leader of the ruthless campaign of state of repression, I was happy to receive this article from about his trial.

Reconciliation is needed after a period of horror that the people of Guatemala have suffered. Here is the article, The Long Arc of Justice In Guatemala; read with interest and pray for the people of this country buried deep in the suffering and joy of life.


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Nature Has Its Way - Thursday, April 25, 2013

Crocus in Rain Garden Today

The first flowers in the rain garden, crocuses are blooming. The rain garden, however, as a whole, is late blooming this year. (See below for picture of total rain garden.) I am still playing, catch up, and will be for some time, in the rain garden as the flowers, spring, summer and fall begin to bloom. Last year I was able to pick flowers from the garden for vase on kitchen table from March 1, 2012 through Oct. 31, 2012. (See Flower Vase Beauty.) This year I will feel lucky if I have flowers for the vase on May 1, 2013.

We can have impact on part of Nature, like weather, but, at the end, Nature has its way. Sometimes I wish it was this way with human beings, just to let things be. For example, being poor and marginalized is tough enough without having a whole bunch of hoops to jump through to get basic needs. Usually it is the person that is not in solidarity with the poor and marginalized that make the rules that make it harder for poor people to survive.

Today with all the talk about low taxes or cutting taxes not only is the Christian message of government serving the common good lost but the very sense of the wealthy sharing with the poor is nearly completely loss. “The Gandhi quote of the day “All taxation to the healthy must return tenfold to the taxpayer in the form of necessary services” sound silly in today’s world.

For nature to thrive all aspects of nature must work together. Individualism, like there is today in USA, plays no role and can be destructive. Yet individuals insist on making it harder and harder for the poor and marginalized to survive by creating more rules and obstacles for people in need or outcasts.

I have a particular example of this happening in my life now but I do not want to mention it. It makes me angry to think about it but by expressing it will not help. All I can do is to bring myself more in line with who I am and true to my own nature within. Working outside in the gardens in nature is healing and I must let nature has its way.


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“No Man is an Island” - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“No man is an island, entire to
itself; Every man is a piece of the
John Donne

Today I had lunch with Pat and Kathleen Jordan, two longtime Catholic Workers from New York City. Pat and Kathleen met each other at the Catholic Worker House of Hospitality around 1968, about the same time Pat, my wife, and I met at the local Catholic Worker House, Casa Maria. I think my Catholic Worker friends Don and Roberta also met here at the Catholic Worker. The local Catholic Worker house, Casa Maria, was started by Mike and Nettie Cullen who after 12 children and 22 grandchildren later are still married. Tom and Monica Cornell met at the Catholic Worker in NYC in the 60’s, married and still live at the Catholic Worker, now at the farm. There are probably stories of Catholic Worker marriages that did not work out but I do not know about them. Marriage is sacred and perhaps having them begin around the Catholic Worker house of hospitality, doing the works of mercy and works of resistance to war makes them special and graceful.

The long time Catholic Worker Franciscan priest, Jerry and I have become friends with over the last year when he was leaving in Milwaukee Catholic Worker. Now he is leaving, at least for awhile. My woman ordained priest friend, Janice, just announced she was not moving back to Milwaukee the place of her birth. Both decisions have made me think of the importance of friends and community during the troubled times we live in. It also makes me much more appreciative of my best friend, Pat, and her long suffering support as we approach our 44th wedding anniversary.

We all need family and friends. When I meet someone with little support from family and friends I actually am drawn to them. I jokily called myself a “reject” and have learned to live with a certain amount of loneliness and have felt the betrayal of a friend. However, deep down I, like everyone, need communion with other persons, nature and creatures. “No man is an island.”


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A Hint of Spring - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Maybe I spoke too early about spring coming yesterday since today it was cold and rainy again. But I think it was just a rainy April day. The weatherman said that this April so far set the record for rain in the area. The drought has ended and now we just need more sun.

My life inside today tells me it is still spring. I got a phone call from Pat Jordan, an established Catholic Worker who will talk tomorrow at the Marquette Archives on campus, where I am banned. He and his wife will meet with me somewhere off campus for lunch.

I also got a call from a staff from The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, (NNOMY). We had an interesting conversation about the militarization of education. However what was more interesting is that he was calling me on Skype from Caracas, Venezuela where he lives with his wife. I asked him about the recent election in Venezuela where, despite being a fair and democratic election, the USA stands along in not recognizing the elected president. He told me that even the opposition in Venezuela have accepted the outcome and they were not too worry about USA taking action while the oil was still flowing from there to here. He made an interesting comment that Venezuela was such a ‘free’ country it was almost dangerous to live there. So while Venezuela becomes freer we become more censored with more limits on our freedom.

Need to get to bed early tonight since early tomorrow morning I need to get up to drive a few friends, one to the clinic and one to take her car in for a repair she is immortalized with pain but needs her van for others to drive her to medical appointments. Maybe the sun will sneak out tomorrow so in the afternoon, after lunch with Catholic Worker and doing the weekly shopping I can get outside in the garden before cooking dinner. A hint of spring and change keeps me going.


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Spring Is Here - Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring has finally arrived, over a month late but better late than never. How can I tell it is officially spring?

1. I took a good time of my day to work outside. A late spring means much more work to do in a shorter period of time.

2) My friend Dawn stopped by to tell me about the opening of two new DMZ gardens, the third, The Healing Garden and the fourth, The Orchard. I am proud to have spent a little bit of time to help Dawn, the D and Marna, the M in the first DMZ garden. (I am the Z) DMZ is a good example of how a seed planted can grow and grow. The DMZ gardens in the Brochert Field District of Milwaukee have a new slogan: “From Trigger Fingers, To Green Thumbs.”

3) A person from the The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, (NNOMY) wrote me today appreciating my research and a request to talk about collaboration. It is also a little bit of spring green.

4) Using leftovers I made a delicious Middle East rice and lamb dish tonight. Creative cooking is a taste of spring.

5) A friend who I have not heard much from recently wrote me a letter of appreciation and friendship.

Oh yes, it was sunny and warm, the ultimate sign that spring is here.


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A Time to Build by Nonviolent Action - Sunday, April 21, 2013

Map of Milwaukee with darkest
areas being the poorest.
See Enlarged Map below

Last August when we published our three essays on theThe Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee a few appreciated the research, one Catholic Peace and Justice Group censored it, but mostly it was ignored. In the essays we showed how North Central Milwaukee where the Catholic Churches have been reduced since the 60’s from seventeen to three now was the poorest area in Milwaukee, the fourth poorest city in USA and the most segregated area in Milwaukee, the most segregated city in the USA according to 2010 census information. Maybe the research was ignored because it was facts that many, especially the Catholic Church, did not want to hear.

So we had 38 people sign a Cry of the Poor Petition,calling on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to use the 1.1 million dollars resulting from the sale of three Church properties in this area to establish a fund to be used for spiritual and corporal works of mercy in North Central Milwaukee. This petition got some small attention before it too was ignored.

A friend in Texas sensing our frustration to get the message out suggested we write a short story of what could happen if the 1.1 million dollars was used to establish a sustainable fund for people in need in North Central Milwaukee. So a friend and I wrote the parable Thy Kingdom Come…on Earth as it is in Heaven. Just to make sure everyone understood the parable we wrote a draft proposal from the parable showing how using the 1.1 million dollars to establish a sustainable fund for beds, stoves and refrigerators for people in need in North Central Milwaukee would make a long lasting structural change. We published the parable and proposal in booklet form and again it was censored or ignored.

Today, the Sunday Milwaukee Journal in a front page story called
Big Divides describes in an article and graphs how segregated and poor North Central Milwaukee is; but, also shows “Milwaukee’s black & white income gap to be among the nation’s largest. The article is the third in a four part series entitled, “A Time to Build” and this third segment is called, “Two Cities in One.”

Now, one would think that this article would set off a wildfire of calls for change in this racially divided city which holds all of us back from economic growth. One would think it would give the Catholic Archdiocese a pause to consider how to invest the 1.1 million dollars in a sustainable, long lasting change in the area, by doing the works of mercy as we were called to do by Jesus.

But, I doubt that will happen. Facts do not carry much weight these days in government, social or even religious circles. My only hope is that it will get some people to join us on our March of Works of Mercy over Works of War on April 30th; at least the first part of our journey, where we will deliver a letter to the Archbishop asking him, as Archbishop and President of the Corporation Board that holds the 1.1 million, to use it to provide beds, stoves and refrigerators, simple human needs, for people in North Central Milwaukee.

It is indeed a Time to Build but sadly no amount of information, even an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel seems to matter. For as history has shown over and over again, it is only creative nonviolent action that makes peaceful change. March for Works of Mercy over Works of War.


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We Are All One! - Saturday, April 20, 2013

A friend and I attended a workshop on the new cosmology combining religious and science about the beginning of the universe and the consciousness of life in all creatures. We watched three parts of a video talk by Richard Rohr, Franciscan Spiritual writer and speaker. As usual Richard Rohr stimulated a lot of creative thought and small and large group discussion. Somehow during the talk and discussion our experience with three families in crisis at our St. Vincent De Paul home visits yesterday came to my mind and consciousness. Probably because I was sitting across the table from a friend who I discovered today, was the co-founder of Community Advocates, an organization that “helps people meet their most basic needs — like a roof over their heads, the lights and heat on at night, and healthcare for their kids.”

Richard Rohr made a comment if we become conscious of God’s life in all creation we could not kill other creatures because we are one with them in many ways. He quoted Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as saying, “God manifest spirit through matter.” If spirit of God is manifest in creatures, especially human beings, the easy and unconscious killing of a human being, as the military at Marquette University teaches, is against our nature as creatures of God. This may explain how the suicide and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome has risen significantly in the military and with veterans as the military more effectively teaches reflexive killing, killing with conscience.

At an open discussion at the end of the workshop someone was praising the speakers, especially the president, at a memorial service for the victims in the Boston bombing. The president condemned the killing of each of the three victims and said that “justice will be served” on the people who did this killing. I could hear my friend nearby quietly say, as the evil of these murders was mentioned, “as long as they were Americans.” I felt compelled to raise my hand and speak up saying how the same president that mourns the loss of the eight year old child in Boston will return to his officer to sign off on the CIA weekly kill list for Killer Drones on Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, counties that we are not at war with. I mentioned how these children killed, like an eight year old boy, were just as precious and loved in God’s eyes as the eight year old boy killed in Boston. I said it is not just the President but all of us are responsible for allowingthese Killer Drone and other military attacks to kill men, women and children. The consciousness of all these deaths affects us and as long as we allow it to happen to others it will happen to us.

Richard Rohr mentioned that in his best writing and speaking words just flowed from him. I have had this experience and had it this morning. My heart bleeds for all victims of homicides be it an eight year boy in Boston or an eight year old boy in Pakistan. We are all one.


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The Devil Within - Friday, April 19, 2013

I read how Pope Francis has written and talk about the battle with the devil in Jesuit terms. In the spirituality the Jesuits, the founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the devil is real and discourages us from speaking up against evil with thoughts like “what can we do”. Pope Francis said” “it would be the evil one who would try to dissuade us, who would say: ‘That’s silly. That can’t be done. You’re not good enough. You couldn’t be called to that. You don’t have what it takes. You don’t have the goods to make a difference in building the kingdom.’” God tells us, he goes on to say: “Yes, you are weak. I know who you are and I call each one of you to lend your talents and energy, commitment, love and gifts to the cause of the kingdom.”

This message of the devil vs. message of God is relevant today as the media tells us the killing of one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing and the capture of the other suspect means, as our President says, “Justice has been served.” The word justice has now become to mean retribution, revenge and punishment for suspected crimes. This is the not the justice of Jesus or of St. Ignatius.

I got another rejection to attend a talk at Marquette University from the Vice President today. This time is one to attend a history lecture on Haiti. I have been banned from Marquette University for the message of a number of persons that “Marquette Teaches Killing” in its military training programs.
Today at three St. Vincent De Paul home visits we met three families that were facing serious crisis, homelessness, severe poverty, family in prison and bureaucratic run around. Yet they all had hope and were not, as the devil would desire, pessimistic or hapless. They had not given into the devil.
The devil says “give it up” you cannot change Marquette hosting military training. Yet God says thru my conscience that I must try, break the silence and speak out. Will I listen to God within or Devil within?


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Learn From Human Made Disasters - Thursday, April 18, 2013

In this time of human made disasters, bombings, murders, wars, destruction of environment, neglect of poor and common good where do we turn and what do we do? There is so many causes and issues worth fighting for quite often we just end up going from one to another in the news; one to another petition or talk, yet not doing much. We are divided and thus kept in control.

What do we do in a time of human made disasters when the word ‘justice’ comes to mean revenge and punishment of the wrong doing? Whatever happened to ‘justice’ of the Gospel, social justice or mercy and justice?

I heard some social scientist say on public radio that the twentieth century was not the most violent one. I need to check his research but find it hard to believe with so many major wars, so much street violence, the holocaust and Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Although we say we will not let terrorist make us fear we increase our security and fear ordinary things, like going to school or a concert.

Not many seem to be interested in the causes of this disasters and violence in our times. In the great hurricane in New Orleans I read somewhere how so much damage was done because of human mistakes. The same probably goes for many disasters like the major explosion last night in West, TX. I have some friends who live about 10 miles from the explosion and was glad to hear they are okay.
Military veterans and news people compare the disaster in Boston and Texas to war zones. The war we so easily oppose on other people perhaps is coming home, not as great but still a disaster of the body, mind and soul.

People praise modern day persons like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Dorothy Day but ignore their message of nonviolent love just as they did Jesus’ message at his time. As Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement said in one of his easy essays: “To blow the dynamite of a message is the only way to make the message dynamic.”

Yes as the poet said “Man was Made to Make Mistakes” but we also made learn from our mistakes. Maybe if we humans did a little less doing and more deeply looking at human made disasters we could learn from them and not repeat them over and over again.


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Works of Mercy Over Works of War - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

See enlarged picture below

I like connecting events, people and issues in my life. In terms of people living in Milwaukee makes it easier. Milwaukee is one of those large cities that seems like a small town. If you talk to another person from Milwaukee long enough you can find a connection. This is not as true across racial lines because Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the USA, but nevertheless it makes for interesting conversation to see how you are connect with another person.

People with certain kinds of illnesses, like Schizophrenia, make multiple connections between all aspects of their life. This is a gift and a curse, because some of the connection they can make seem strange and are not understood by others.

I like connections and my web page,, tries to bring the gap between gardening and nonviolence. Sometimes I can do this and sometimes I cannot.

The two social justice and peace issues I am focused on this year, Teach War No More at Marquette University and the Catholic Church listening to the Cry of the Poor are connected in the Catholic Worker movement. Catholic Workers, which I consider myself to be since 1967 when I met Dorothy Day in front of the house of hospitality in NYC, firmly believe in resistance to works of war and in practicing the works of mercy in their daily lives. Our movement to stop the teaching of war and killing, killing without conscience is something Catholic Workers have been known for over the years and still practice today. Acts of the Corporal Works of Mercy is something Catholic Workers practice in houses of hospitality, individually and collectively.

Since Marquette has banned me from Campus for our calling for an end to the military training program and the Archbishop and Catholic Church authorities have ignored us in our cry to use the 1.1 million dollars from closing Churches in the poorest and most segregated part of the city for beds, stoves and refrigerators for people I feel that I now have nothing to lose by an nonviolent act, perhaps of civil disobedience, to connect these two issues. So today I announced on the home page of my web site that I, and others that wish to participate, will march on April 30 from the office of the Archbishop, to the office of the President of Marquette University. We will deliver calling on these Catholic institutions to practice the Works of Mercy over the Works of War.

Enlarged Picture of icon is below.


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Darkness before the Sun - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Riding the elevator at the Medical Center today one of the woman told the other woman and myself how glad she was to see the sun today. We all agreed. I had planned to do some work outside today getting the garden ready. However, between a prayer vigil for a homicide victim, faith sharing, doctor’s appointment, a few phone calls and emails it was nearly five o clock when my African niece called and came over to pick up her mail. I decided to watch national news at 5: 30pm and then go outside. But by that time the sun was fading away and the weather man says it will stay away for three more days of cloudy and rain.

An internal sunny experience was our faith sharing conversation this morning. The question for reflection was “How do we pray?” The question brought out some deep insights of how each one of finds prayer, from repetitive prayer to praying with the five senses of the imagination.

I recalled my efforts to understand and use the method of St. Ignatius of Loyola to pray with the five sense of the imagination, hearing, seeing, smelling, touch and taste. It is something I feel the need to turn back to do. Putting myself in a scene of the Gospel helps me to see the Gospel in my everyday life.

People talked about how prayer brought peace and was an expression of the Resurrection. This reminded me of how all joy and peace came after times of darkness and sadness. Suffering always precedes the Resurrection. That is okay for me for carrying this out in the everyday world it means that having suffered all this cold, rainy days there is a time of warmth and sun coming soon. The darkness comes before the light of sun.


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Violence Begets Violence - Monday, April 15, 2013

What Would Jesus Do?

“Live by the sword and die by the sword,” is a saying derived from Jesus’ telling Peter to put away his sword as Peter was trying to defend Jesus from the Roman soldiers who had come to arrest him. Jesus who lived a life of preaching and practicing nonviolent love is telling his followers one more time that those who live by violence will die by violence. Many Jewish people of his time did not follow his teaching or heed his words and, as predicted, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE (AD).

However, the followers of the Way of Jesus, refusing to participate in violence, survived. And despite great suffering and death triumphed and in 313 Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire built on violence declined but Christianity built on nonviolent love of Jesus flourished.

History has taught us over and over again that violence begets violence yet people and nations like the USA place their faith in military might and violence.

The tragic suffering and death at the Boston Marathon today recalled this lesson of history for me today. The United States is the greatest military power and the world and yet we imprison more of our population per capita than any other nations yet violence, like today, increases.

Some say, and I believe, the USA Empire, like the Roman empire, is declining and all the weapons of war in the world cannot save it but in fact hasten its death.

After 9/11 I remember going to a workshop at local community college to try to understand not to justify this terrible terrorist action and where all the hatred against USA was rooted. This effort was soon lost as we turned to violence and war in response. Now we do not even try to understand the sources of such violence. The first thing we say after a tragic event is that we will get ‘justice’ on those who committed such an evil act. Justice, in our vernacular, means punishment and maybe even death, which might mean more violence.

The more persons we imprison the more the more there are to imprison. A community organization is trying to offer treatment and recovery to nonviolent criminals, like crimes related to alcoholism and drug use. History, especially in the early Nixon years, has proven this as a more effective and less costly way to reduce crime. But many will not hear about it. They want justice, which means more violence.

What can we do in such a world where violence is rampant and the way of the land? As Christians we can follow Jesus and resist and refuse to participate in violence. This might mean nonviolence like civil disobedience and suffering and even death like it did in the civil rights struggle.

Mario Savio, a student activist in the 60’s suggested a way to stop the machine of violence we face. “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Pray for the people who suffered violence in Boston today. Pray we can learn from history that Violence begets Violence and Nonviolent Resistance and Love brings Peace.


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Silence of Nature - Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lettuce Lake, Florida 2008

Late due to technical difficulties beyond my control

It was cold, dark, rainy and dreary again today and there is no change in sight but I did manage to get out and a little work done in the garden. It felt good and long for more. My life has become too technological recently and I look forward to go back to the natural wonder of nature. I realized this tonight when I went to get out my web page and found the server is down, something that happens on occasion. Nature takes a day off although days, like as of late, do get me down.

At the end of our Sunday liturgy today we had announcements. There were a lot of them and downstairs at coffee I learned of more. I got too many events, meetings, things to do now in my head. It was so much. A friend and I compared it to shopping in the mall where our senses are over flooded with stimuli, sights, sound, smell, touch and taste. Now all of life seems like a shopping mall, so many causes, so much to see and do. Sometimes I think that the ‘powers that be’ keep us flooded with so much that we become numb and insensitive. How do we know what is important, not important or to be ignored when we are so busy to reflect.

The question for our Faith Sharing this Tuesday is “How do we pray.” My response is how one can pray with all the noise around us. Before we can pray we need to find some silence. Being in nature is one great way to find silence. From the Silence of Nature we can pray.


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Works of War Versus Works of Mercy - Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our efforts to get the Catholic Church to use the 1.1 million it realized from selling Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee to hear the Cry of the Poor and our efforts to stop Marquette from Teaching War and Killing on campus are connected in the Catholic Worker tradition. Dorothy Day, co-founder of Catholic Worker movement and Catholic Workers of all types are devoted to practicing works of mercy and resisting works of war.

There is a long time Catholic Worker and former editor of Catholic Worker and Commonweal magazine, Pat Jordan, coming to Milwaukee on April 24th. According to my banning order from Marquette University I need to request permission from the Vice President of Marquette University to attend the talk at the Catholic Worker archives in the library. If I get permission from the vice president I need to have an escort while attending the talk. I do not think I need to be handcuffed and my mouth sealed.

If I seem to be making light of my ban and arrest and my ticket for my car ( From Pope Francis to Known Trespasser Car ) I am. But I am also trying to point the attention to the message that is banned at Marquette: Marquette Teaches Killing in its military programs.

We are at war, the Works of War versus the Works of Mercy. Doing works of mercy means resisting works of war.

See full logo below.


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Compressed Lesson of Person in Need - Friday, April 12, 2013

Some years ago, while working in Church work, I started to call ‘poor’ persons in need. It seemed to me that the word ‘poor’ was getting to much stigma attached to it. By calling some people ‘poor’ they were easier to dismiss. So I started used the phrase “people in need”. No matter how you say there is a growing population in the USA become poorer while there is very tiny group becoming very rich.

Today I was blessed with a compressed view of what it means to be poor and still have a vehicle. My friend, who has been living in pain for many years and is disabled, recently had to move out of her apartment into a support shared apartment building, as it is called. While I and another person drove her in her van, with her laying down in the backseat, she was able to get assistance of persons who would come over, help her around the house, and cook a meal and run, errands to the store. Since the new place has its own aides for assistance she can no longer get such assistance.

However, being new in the place with seems to be understaffed and not being on the right schedule for food personal buying she asked me to help her out this afternoon. At first it started out with my taking her van in for an oil change but then the list grew. Here is where I was after going to her place to pick up her van, keys, and shopping list. First I went to get an oil change for her van to a place she had dealt with in the van. From there I went to her old apartment building to turn in her keys. Then I made a quick stop at an AMT machine to get out some money. Next I went over to Cash checking place to get $10 of quarters so she could wash her cloths. After that I went next door to a Family dollar store to purchase some items that she regularly purchases there. Then I went to a major grocery store to get a favorite type of yogurt. Next I went to a grocery store that she had heard about from others in the apartment that had good deals on food. Being an unfamiliar store it took me quite some time to purchase everything on the list and often I had to guess on the type of a particular product. On the way back to her place I stopped to get gas for her van.

Near the end of the run when I was feeling so good and upset about spending so much time doing these things, I started to realize I was getting a condensed glimpse of the life of the poor: cash store, quarters for the washing clothes, dollar store for particular items, going to a local store that people say has good prices, the kind of quick food I was purchasing, heavy on the instant nature, ATM machines are all part of life of poor person. If a person has a van like my friend then purchasing gas and an oil change are necessary.

Near the end of journey I got a few calls from other friends I have helped with rides to medical appointments, nursing home or other place. I call them friends for like my friend today they have become my friends and sharing the many blessings and grace God sheds on the people in need ( poor). I was tired and want to end this endless journey but then I remembered the many gifts these friends as my friend today had sharing with me, and I was peace and understanding on the phone. As they say everyone wants to be friends with a rich person but not many with someone in need. Although I was tired and sick of shopping I started to realize the four and one-half of running errands was really a grace, a compressed lesson on what it means to be a person in need.


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Coin of Life and Death - Thursday, April 11, 2013

“It is clear to me as daylight
that life and death are but phases
of the same thing, the reverse
and obverse of the same coin.”
Mahatma Gandhi

At the beginning of the week, there was plenty of time, a time to relax read and reflect. But day by day things happen, friends need rides, phone calls and home visits, things to write and plan. Be busy is okay when the week is so rainy and cold like this one. Being busy keeps the dark shadows away, at least for awhile. Hopefully soon we can get sun, warmth and spring when everything seems more alive.

I received a Gandhi picture quote today that touches on my experience of living in winter and spring the same time. It is “It is clear to me as daylight that life and death are but phases of the same thing, the reverse and obverse of the same coin.” (M.K. Gandhi, Mahatma, Vol. 3, p. 4) We need to live with life and death, light and darkness, cold and hot, being treated with respect or disrespect.

Simply said finding God and peace in life is seeing and hearing both sides of the coin.
Larger picture is below.


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Children Do Not Lie - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

‘Boo’, Friend of Children
and Young at Heart

Today a friend of our family with his daughter was in town taking care of some business before going to Illinois to visit his Mom. While our friend, who has lived a rough life, was taking care things I had lots of time to spend with his five-year-old daughter who I have not see for a couple of years. It was like we were lifetime friends visiting the children’s museum, waiting in the car while her dad dropped off things or playing at our house with our collection of musical instruments from Latin America or with my collection of stuffed animals. She was alive with imagination which only a child seems to possess these days or a silly old man like myself. She was particularly impressed with my pop up clown from Guatemala name Boo. (Pat my wife found that children in her story hour at the library liked Boo so much she brought one for herself.) As she was leaving the city with her father she said to me “It was nice seeing you again.”

This five year reminded me of all the 2 to 6 year old I have met over the years, around the world and here. Each boy or girl brought real joy to my life and was a grace. Many of them I have pictures of so I was inspired today to make a collage of their faces. Whenever I get down or tired of adults misrepresenting information or statements I can just bring up this collage. Children do not lie.

See Picture Quote Below for more


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Say No To Violence by Action - Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Prayer Vigil for stabbing victim.

This morning a few of us gathered in the rain to pray for a man who had been stabbed to death on the South Side of Milwaukee. This afternoon I got a military newsletter about a new unmanned Apache helicopter called the Guardian, that uses “eye-in-the-sky” technology. Now we have “killer drones” and “killer helicopters” that are unmanned, quiet but deadly.

Recently I have received two petition requests to send our congressperson, one from National Peace Action on the Move the Money campaign from war to community resources and the other one to request our congressperson to take action on behalf of the people in a village in Palestine to save their village from a complete takeover by Israel.

When I wrote peace organizations and peace persons about taking nonviolent direct action with our liberal Congressperson who votes for more military spending and against Palestine all I got back from anyone was from a new staff person of the local Peace Action saying they were having a press conference today about the Move the Money campaign.

I was not talking about more Peace talk but about Peace Action, particularly to get our liberal congresswoman to vote against more military spending and pro-Palestine. I remembered a quote from the deceased historian Howard Zinn: “The really critical thing isn’t who’s sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating ? - those are the things that determine what happens….” In another quote he tells us our problem is civil obedience not civil disobedience.

I realized what I called ‘nonviolent action’ was just some abstract talking or workshop for most. It was not preparing them to take nonviolent direct action, even civil disobedience in struggles, like to stop senseless killings on our streets or by our government.

Presently our US congress is debating what the least meaningful gun control bill it can pass to please the most people. They do not realize that no act of congress will stop the killing, be it by a student in Texas who today stabbed 14 college students or by the operator of an unmanned helicopter or drone.

Violence from with a gun, drone or knife will only stop when we say No to violence by our words and, more importantly, by our actions, even to the point of risking arrest and harm.


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Stigma and Environment - Monday, April 08, 2013

Rain, cold and snow continue to postpone spring. I have the seeds but hesitant even to plant seeds in the unheated sun room. Hopefully the perennials outside will patiently wait to grow and the seeds can be planted soon inside and grow faster outside. The new Worm Box system given to me last winter should help. Worms continue to work inside to make castings, a natural fertilizer that can speed up growing.

I used to think we had no control over the weather or Mother Nature. Now I know better and sadly the message is that we are harming the environment. Earth Day is coming soon and it does not look like what are seriously going to do something about the destruction of the environment.

April is also Mental Health Awareness month. There is a lot of talk about mental health but like the environment it is what we do not what we say that matters. The stigma of mental illness still plagues us and we do not really consider it an illness like other illnesses, like cancer or heart disease. People with mental illnesses or brain diseases do not get the same care and resources as we give other illnesses and diseases.

If we neglect Mother Earth and a major illness for human beings we will pay in terms of natural disasters and more suffering and death. We gardeners maybe able to work around a late spring but we humans cannot work around stigma and a neglected environment.


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Money, Military & Marquette - Sunday, April 07, 2013

Money, Military and Marquette have been something we have been talking about for years. We know Marquette University has a contract with the Department of Defense to host regional military officer training schools for the Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. Before writing our Letter to the Provost of Marquette University a few of asked if we could see the contracts with the Department of Defense. He smiled at us and said we would never see those contracts.

Maybe he was right but in this information age is surprising how much information on any subject is on the web. Tonight I goggled Department of Defense Marquette University contract and got 1, 820, 000 hits. I did not have the time to refine the search and check out all the information of money, Marquette and Military but there is a gold mine of information. What struck me was the amount of money Marquette donated to political campaigns, mainly Democrats and the amount Marquette spent of lobbyist. Watch out Mr. Provost the wall of secrecy that surrounds Marquette and the military is about to fall the money machine of the hosting Teaching War and Killing.
Does anyone care but just like some of the families of children killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown we must try, for the children, to bring common sense into the big business of money, military and Universities?

Marquette University responds to us by ignoring our cry about the insanity of teaching killing on campus or they do silly little token things like ban one person from campus for protesting, praying and doing research in the library.

I feel a little under the weather tonight so it makes it hard to talk about anything, especially money, military and Marquette.


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‘Honesty’ and ‘Doing the Right Thing’ - Saturday, April 06, 2013

A “No” uttered from the deepest
conviction is better than a ‘Yes’
merely uttered to please, or worse,
to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Gandhi

Today I received an email from a young adult I respect completely misrepresenting an exchange of letters (not emails) between her and another respected member of the community. I simply responded with quotes from the two letters which I had in my possession. Last week I got an email from another young adult who was making all kinds of excuses and accusations instead of just admitting he could not do what he said he would do. Now these are very good young adults who, instead of just admitting the truth are looking for ways around it.

Whatever happened to honesty is the best policy? These are minor examples of what I see is a bigger issue facing our society where everything is personal opinion and there is no right or wrong and anything goes as long as do hurt someone, and if you do hurt people make it indirect.

This mentality of ‘everything goes’, the ‘end justifies the means’ makes it possible, I believe, for the President of the United States to approve a “kill list” for killer drone attacks on a country that USA is not at war with, knowing it will mean the death of innocent people and children and we keep silent about it.

This way of thinking means the Catholic Church can condemn woman priest, contraception and same sex marriage while being silent on senseless killings, teaching war on a Catholic campus and ignoring greed of the wealthy.

None of us live out exactly our morals and ethics but we used to think guilty about not being honest or doing the right thing not justifies it.

Jesus said “I am the Way, Truth and the Light.” Now everyone has their own ‘way’, truth is relative and we wonder why we live in the dark. Is honesty and ‘doing the right thing’ gone the way of truth.


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Friends to Overcome Fears - Friday, April 05, 2013

friends over fears

Watching the movie Argo tonight I was reminded of all the good Democratic governments our USA government has help to overthrow over the years, Guatemala, Haiti, Chile, Iran and Honduras to name a few. In each case violent governments have emerged in these countries, sometimes to come back and hurt us. The old saying of “what goes around come around” or that “chickens come home to roast” seem to be true.

Whenever a government or group of people decide they know what is best for another government or their own government and take violent means to achieve their end, more violence erupts. When will ever learn violence begets violence.

Tonight at fish fry with Pat and a friend we got talking with our waitress. Talking about family she mentioned her father had suffered terribly from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how once, as a child, she had to talk him out of suicide. She mentioned how children, like her, of a parent suffering from such a disorder, have picked up bits and pieces of the disorder herself. Our friend talked about the increasing number of suicides amidst veterans and active soldiers in the military. Witnessing violence and killing or killing one self is an illness that affects the life of person and family and friends seriously. Violence begets violence.

If violence brings more violence the opposite is also true, nonviolent love begets nonviolent true. Our ‘old friends’, Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi would be horrified of what we call ‘nonviolent training’ today. It consists mostly of talk or keeping silent if an issue is controversial, maybe a protest or two or signing a petition. Only a few risk arrest, commit civil disobedience or face suffering and insults from expressing nonviolent love.
So the ‘powers that be’ create fear and a false peace based on military strength. While we get distracted on so many issues fear lingers on and patriotism means encouraging gun ownership and fighting in a war for education right not because you believe in it.

Tomorrow I am running some errors with two men, one who spent eleven years in the military and suffers from a mental illness and one that has struggled all his life with his mental illnesses. Many of my friends today suffer from illnesses of mind, body or soul. However what we all understand instinctively is friends help overcome fears.


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No Assissination of Truth - Thursday, April 04, 2013

Today was warmer, in the 50’s, but the ground was still frozen. It is cold tomorrow, warm and rainy on Saturday and cold next week. Who knows what is going to be with the weather? As we approach Earth Week the question comes up of what is happening with climate change, when time running out to avoid a major disaster. Now we face nuclear bomb threats from North Korea which gives us another reason to ignore the real disaster of the earth as another reason to be ignored.

We have betrayed mother earth and now we are paying for it. Whenever I feel betrayed, as I did today by a friend, I need to remember betrayal will take care of itself and just to move forward.

The people I call friends often betray me, consciously or not, and the people I consider the opposition sometimes treat me fairly and justly. Either way I need to move forward with honesty and with conscience. I do not have the truth and must constantly seek it. But I believe in Truth, the Way and the Light of Jesus Christ, God’s heir, and must seek to pursuit my “opinion of truth” as Gandhi would say.

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of King who was not afraid to speak truth to power. Defending the rights of garbage men in Memphis cost him his life. But it was more than this one struggle for truth. Gandhi was killed by fellow Hindus that did not feel his way of being open to all, either Muslims, was not right. Who killed King or Gandhi? We can say particular names of people but when it comes down to it, it is like who killed Jesus. It was the Romans but in some way it was all of us that reject the Way of Jesus.

Speaking truth to Power can result in an assassination of a person but there is no assassination of the truth.


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Living in the Moment Deeply - Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Art by Peter Graf

Being that spring is finally near I am looking for better health. With spring comes outside garden work, sun, exercise, worm castings, home grown food, more daylight, fishing, biking and all kinds of good stuff. My struggles and concerns, Marquette Teaching War and use of the 1.1 million Catholic church money for the poor remain the same but somehow with spring and the light the burden become lighter and the blessings increase. My curses remain my blessings but in spring they are easier to see and feel as blessing.

Recently someone asked me what do I do for myself? I thought about this question and another one we posed in faith sharing yesterday, how do we find God in all things? In a sense everything we do is for self, being it selfishness or for interest of others and self. Now if we believe that we can find God in all things the question becomes how we find God in ourselves. I do not have the answer or solution but know it has something to do with living deeply in the present moment.

Everyone preaches living in the moment but deeply living in the moment is a struggle that exposes us to pain and suffering as well as blessings and peace.

Now to bring these thoughts down to earth with some examples! I have friends who deeply concern with the plight of the people of Palestine and are concerned with more and more war spending. What do they do about it? Go to more talks and discussions about the subject, write letters, sign petitions, make phone calls and faithfully vote. Nothing much changes so what do they do but do more of the same. They keep doing these moment by moment stuff, never discovering using the power of nonviolence in each of us. They seriously believe they are going to get politicians and others in power to do something without matching the power of others, friends or foe, without confronting power with power.

Their power is the power of nonviolent love and action, individually or, better yet, working together. People fear alienating the “powers to be” and believe they can persuade these powers without conflict or confrontation. This has happened over and over again with our “liberal congresswoman” who keeps on voting against the people of Palestine and for more war spending. A few years back when groups of person were about to hold her accountable for her war spending ways a local peace group interfered and made it impossible. Keeping the surface is fine but doing something deeply about it is another thing.

When will we ever learn that living in the moment is great but unless we do it deeply, so we can really hear and see, nothing really changes?


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Voting or Fish Fry - Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Today was Election Day for some state and local officers. In another posting, Nov. 6, 2012, I explained why I did not vote. But it interests me that 95% plus of the time the person with the most money wins. When voting matters I will resume voting but seeing the children suffer, no matter who wins, liberal or conservative, male or female, Democrat or Republican is unbearable. Last week I reported how a bill in Congress was passed that gave more military spending to Department of Defense and a free ride for genetically modified seed companies that was voted on by both sides, liberal and conservative. When our vote matters I will vote.

Of equal or more interest to me are the ratings of local Fish Fries that Pat, Joe and I are doing. It started when a mutual friend of ours, who grew up in Milwaukee, returned for a visit and wanted to know what the best fish fries are today. Someone has to do the ‘hard work’ of reviewing fish fries so we three took on this task. We only have review eleven fish fries of the 300 or more in the area but we are working on it. (You can find results so far below)

Now if you think I am showing more enthusiasm about rating Fish Fries than voting you got it right. Unlike voting, when we go to a new Fish Fry I am unaware of how it will be and if it will be a winner. Fish Fries, unlike voting, does not always follow money. Nowadays Fish Fries are about $10, more or less. More expense does not mean more quality. In voting you can decide by who has the most money, most of the time, the winner.

Fish Fries give you a good meal. Voting just means the same old, same old politics. When people like a Fish Fry and spread the word the Fish Fry becomes more popular. When an elected official does not live up to election promises it does not seem to matter much in the next election.

Fish fries are held accountable if they give you bad food. Politicians can say one thing and do another thing and the followers, as shown above, do not matter. Labels, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republicans matter a lot to voters. In fish fries, the quality of food and service is all that matters.
Now for those out of the Milwaukee area let me explain that Fish Friends, especially on Friday, are a big thing in dinning. When the Catholic Church eliminated its prohibition of meat on Friday it did not matter in Milwaukee. Chinese, Middle Eastern, bars, taverns, fine dining restaurants, family dinners, Catholic Churches all have Fish Fries on Friday. Politicians come and go but Fish Fries last. Fish Fries do not make promises they break as politicians do.

I rather go to a Fish Fry than Vote.


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Riches To Rags! - Monday, April 01, 2013

Rich Koeppen,
a Lucky man!

Today a Catholic Worker friend in Iowa sent me a story from the Omaha Newspaper, “Champion of poor hits hard times, but he’s not complaining”. It is the story of a 70 year old man, Rich Koeppen, who went from wealth to poverty by his own choice and his efforts to serve the homeless, sick and hungry. Now he is suffering the worst form of poverty, severe dementia, by rapidly losing his memory. He goes to a store and cannot remember why he is there. When the reporter pointed how his fate was a ‘karmic injustice’ he quickly corrected her and said: “I’m the luckiest person you know.”

The story struck me since I am 70 years old and witness my father dying from dementia. I saw the destruction and suffering dementia can bring to a person. I fear losing my memory and here is a man who literally gave away all his wealth to be in solidarity with the poor who is now suffering the lost of his mind. Yet he is filled with gratitude and calls himself ‘lucky’ where I strive to feel gratitude and consider myself blessed.

I also identified with Rich because the author of the article said: “He advocated so much, it hurt him. He was pushy.” This cost him and his homeless shelters support. It seems like advocating hard and being pushing are separated by a thin line that some of us frequently cross. Now he feels guilty for being a beggar when he had so much he could have put some away. Of course when he had wealth he felt guilty and thus gave it away. The author says: “He just feels guilty for having so much when others have so little.”

Now his guilt is being replaced with terror, the terror of not remembering. Rich gave his wealth away to the poor, homeless and marginalized and now he is losing his memory. Yet he still feels gratitude. His story of riches to rages inspires allof us.


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