Cherith Brook

’s Mercy & Gospel Obe dienc icing God e Pract



Ordinary Time 2013

So E lijah did according to the word of the L ord; he went and lived by the C herith Brook…and the ravens brought him bread… I Kings 17

Life on the Margins
by Amy Hansen-Malek When I was 19 years old, I moved from rural IL to the urban core of Milwaukee, WI with the vision of “giving to the poor” and “helping to save the lost.” I had my hero’s cape tied snug around my neck as I came to teach, feed, and clothe those on the margins of society. I’m now 36 and still live in the urban core, near Cherith Brook, where the sights of economic oppression can’t be missed. It’s not uncommon for me to see a man walking by my house carrying his home on his back or for me to pass someone holding a sign asking for money. Piles of trash seem endless next to the run down buildings in my neighborhood. ing “they” listen to “us” describe how to fix “their” problems or having “them” commit to “our” programs. These good intentions also can be hurtful because they often fall very short of addressing or even acknowledging the injustices that often cause persons to be in need of resources in the first place. There are other days, when instead of wearing my cape, I carry stones in my pocket. I get frustrated by the signs of poverty and crime around me and find myself wanting to cast stones of judgment at those living on the margins, for surely it is they who are responsible for the endless trash I see and the daily crime I read about, right? When I find myself wearing my cape or casting stones, I try to remember what James tells us in Chapter 2: 1-10. In my own words, the story goes something like this: A poor man enters a community and is asked to sit at the feet of others in the community. He is preached to, fed, and clothed but not viewed as having any value to offer the community. A rich man enters a community and is invited to sit “with” the community. The community thinks the rich man has great resources and knowledge to share. He can use his wealth to help the poor man sitting at their feet better his life, so the poor man’s life can look more like the successful rich man’s life. However, the community has it all wrong. The poor man has the real riches because he has faith and he has inherited the Kingdom. The rich man is really poor because he lacks faith and has not inherited the Kingdom. The rich man is actually responsible for injustices that exist in the community. If you see more value in the rich man than the poor man, you have sinned. To commit one sin is the same as committing all the sins. When I first moved into the city, I mainly saw poverty and problems around me, but I now try to remember and “see” that I live among great wealth. The person walking by my house carrying his belongings on his back may know more about the riches of the Kingdom than I’ll ever know. He may be rich in faith, faith that I lack in my life. Throughout scripture, God reveals God’s self to and through those viewed as outcasts. Perhaps we see this because they were the ones

Deth Im and Br. Louis Rodeman discussing different approaches to justice work on behalf of those experiencing homelessness at a recent roundtable discussion.

Through these years, I’ve wrestled with what it means to truly love those cast to the margins. Some days I still put on my hero’s cape, wanting to offer my advice to the poor on how to turn their lives around, as if my riches and way of life are better. Offering acts of compassion by giving food, clothing, or other resources comes easy to most of us and God does ask us to give to those in need. However, I’ve come to understand how these good intentions can be hurtful. The resources often come with strings attached, like insist-

ready to receive the Kingdom. The world they lived in didn’t allow them to be valued because they were unclean, uneducated, sinners, or half-breeds, as the Samaritans were called. They weren’t invited to sit “with” the community. When the world they lived in didn’t value them, they were ready for a new community, the Kingdom community. In the Kingdom community, which Jesus offered, they were accepted instead of kept out and discriminated against. If we really want to become like Jesus, we can’t ignore that he walked “with” those on the margins and became a marginalized man. As Jesus showed the in breaking of the Kingdom among those on the margins of society, he showed how the Kingdom community differed from the culture around him. Walter Brueggmann, a well-known theologian, writes in Prophetic Imagination, “The compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as public criticism in which he dares to act upon his concern against the entire numbness of his social context. “ Compared to many, I am a rich person. I can’t deny my place as the rich person in James’ story. I have, even if unknowingly, participated in injustices toward the poor since many injustices are systemic in nature and perpetuated by those with wealth. At times, I become numb to the painful experiences of those around me living as outcasts and find myself walking by as the Levite did in the story of the Good Samaritan (Note that it was the outcast who stopped for the man in need in this story). As I have tried to shed my cape and empty my pockets, as I have come to know more persons living on the margins, I have experienced more of the riches of the Kingdom. Instead of wearing a cape or throwing stones, maybe at least part of what it means to love those on the margins is simply to sit at their feet and learn about the Kingdom. In doing this, we might learn about our own needs and their real needs. What’s more, we might be able to erase the “us and them” language, and instead, we could value one another and be together in community.

Cast Out
by Chris Homiak


Cherith Brook Catholic Worker

Ordinary Time 2013

by Lori Oster I can not tell you why my eyes were shielded from violence. I have no reason why my ears heard love instead of pain and hate. I can not explain why my heart was guarded like treasure. Only that it was and that has shaped so much of me. I believe I am responsible for this shelter given to me. I must steward it for the large space it can encompass. far south past the sea of addictions I must describe it for others who haven’t seen. west bound over hunger and disease I must proclaim the shelter for those who disbelieve, east blasting through mines of exploit And bring it within the grasp for those too wounded to reach for themselves. I want to buy this intangible, shrink and package into some shelved commodity, and give to my friend to take home and use like the warmth of a space heater.

lifts up her voice at feeling so out of control; Last month, the city bulldozed another she weeps angry tears at the people who cast off-the-grid camp that many in northeast her out and a God who let this happen; and she called home. One local station called the weeps at the hopelessness of the wilderness. camp an “underground homeless suburb,” and God hears the cry of the child, and meets the series of tunnels and caves made national them in the wilderness. God tells Hagar to lift news. They briefly mentioned the presence of diapers and toys, and a young mother who insisted her child did not stay with her there. As I thought about the disturbing destruction and the sub-human living conditions involved in these cycles of eviction and rebuilding, the story of Hagar came to mind. After the miraculous birth of Isaac, powerful and privileged Sarah and Abraham cast out Hagar and her Another site near the tunnels that was recently raided by the KCPD. infant son Ishmael up the boy and hold him tightly, for God will into the wilderness. Hagar’s otherness had make a great nation out of him, just like Isaac become too threatening and uncomfortable, so and Abraham. Just as Hagar was “cast out” and Sarah ordered Hagar and her baby deported and then “cast out” her son, Hagar “lifts up” her shunned. She was given a pitiful bit of bread voice and is then told to “lift up” her son. and water as she became a homeless, undocu Then God reveals a well of water. Hagar’s mented single mother. eyes are opened, and she sees a new way, a new The story becomes even more disturbing hope. She rushes to the well, fills her canteen, and gives the child a drink. And we quickly learn that this is not just a pit-stop along the way – they are not returning home to Abraham and Sarah, nor are they journeying on through the wilderness to some new city or community. This is their new home. And so it is sometimes when one is cast out – eyes are gradually opened to ways to survive in the wilderness, that lonely and confusing, barren and isolated place. God sustains some of us in the wilderness. Maybe not with manna from heaven, but with the most basic and life-giving gift of water. As this story is lived out in the urban wilderness of our neighborhood, I hope it does not end with Hagar’s weeping. I know that I am complicit in the casting out by the powerful and privileged Sarahs and Abrahams in our city; I A series of underground tunnels many called home in Kansas City. lament how it seems that the Hagars continue to be cast out for our comfort. I strain my ears to hear the voice of Hagar or her child being when Hagar runs out of food and water. She lifted up in the wilderness. I search for water “casts the child under one of the bushes. Then that can re-humanize and lift up those who she goes and sits down opposite him a good way have been cast out; for places that say and live off, about the distance of a bowshot. She says, out “welcome” rather than “move along.” ‘Don’t let me see the child die!’” Hagar then lifts up her voice and weeps, crying for the life of her child and for a way out of the wilderness. She

Ordinary Time 2013

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker


Trying on Community
By Betsy Thomas I spent about five weeks as an intern at Cherith Brook during this past November and December. While I was there, several of the volunteers or people visiting with tour groups asked me who I was doing the internship with – school, work, etc. I had to explain that I was just doing it for myself as a personal learning experience. I first connected with Cherith Brook in the winter of 2011 when they held a 4-week-long discussion group about peace and nuclear weapons, which I had heard about through my church. I had no idea what Cherith Brook was until I walked through the doors for that first meeting. I immediately knew that it was a special place and felt it was a place I wanted to be more connected to. There was a sense of peace, acceptance, and non-judgmentalism, which I could feel in my core. When they gave a short tour and explained they were an intentional community serving their neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were people doing such a thing in my city. I had become interested in intentional community several years earlier when I learned about Jane Addams and her settlement house during my Social Work studies, and when I read Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution. But, as life got busy, I forgot about that interest that had been sparked, and I didn’t know that there were people involved in intentional community here. My interest was re-ignited when I stumbled upon Cherith Brook, and I wanted to know more. Since I worked a full-time job in social services, I was never able to experience Cherith Brook’s regular hospitality through morning showers. However, I got involved in their anti-nuclear weapons work, I started coming to the Second Saturday workdays, and also spent most of that summer helping in the garden every Saturday. I wondered if living in community could be a possibility for my own life one day. I began to be more and more dissatisfied with the status quo of working for a paycheck while not feeling like my work was really making a significant impact on the people I was working with. I felt like I was wearing clothes that no longer fit me, and I felt the need to try on something different to find the right fit. The social services agency I was working for began to make some major changes, and through agency restructuring, my position there was eliminated. Although this was disappointing and painful, I was excited about the open door of opportunity to pursue some other life paths and finally “try on” something new. I wanted from varying walks of life, and was willing to step out of my comfort zone by interacting with people who I would not normally have the opportunity to cross paths with. One of the most surprising things during my time at Cherith Brook was how easy it was to meet guests in the café space – how quickly I was able to learn names and get to know some of the regulars. I was also surprised at how quickly some guests opened up and told stories of their lives. It was a beautiful thing to receive and hear their stories of where they’ve been, and to hear about the changes they’ve seen in the world. Many people expressed a feeling of belonging at Cherith Brook, describing the community as being like family – a feeling I was easily able to identify with, since I had felt similarly when I first entered Cherith Brook. It was beautiful to hear several people describe Cherith Brook as being a place of peaceful refuge, where the disputes or fights that sometimes happen in other locations are left behind, and people can interact peacefully for the most part. That is a testament to the way the Cherith Brook community values nonviolence and the way they show respect and the love of Christ to all who enter their doors. I am now moving on to Betsy Thomas busy crafting during a winter giftmaking roundtable at spend several months “trying Cherith Brook. on” life at an intentional community in Georgia, as part of my exploration laundry, picking up and sorting food donafor new possibilities for my life. I hope to tions, work projects around the property, continue learning about community in this and lots of sorting and organizing of clothdifferent context, and to build on what I ing donations, keeping the clothing closet experienced and learned at Cherith Brook. well stocked and in good order. My time at Cherith Brook was beautiful In addition to folding laundry, I was and important. It gave me a taste of what folded into the everyday community life community can be like, and gave me many of the regular community members. I got things to think about as I search for the way to know each of them more, while working community fits in my own life. I am thankalongside them, preparing and eating meals ful for the time I got to spend there, and for together, and gathering with them early in those who I crossed paths with while there. the morning for prayers. I got to see what communal life looks like, and learned a bit about how they run their community. Although I have spent over 8 years working in social services, I have not had much involvement with persons who are experiencing homelessness. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in to the café space during the regular time of hospitality. However, I did have a sense of acceptance toward people to try out intentional community, so I asked Cherith Brook about living with them as an intern. During my weeks at Cherith Brook, I was fully involved in the house happenings. I worked the shower house three mornings a week, and got to know some of the regular guests. The afternoons were filled with


Cherith Brook Catholic Worker

Ordinary Time 2013

From Protest to Proposal
by Erika Marksbury Joan Baez drafted an imaginary dialogue between herself and an opponent, whom she calls Fred. In it, Fred offers up the tired clichés used to justify violence, to argue that there comes a point when no language but violence can be spoken. He asks Joan, “What would you do if someone were attacking your grandmother?” When she outwits him there, he poses a new scenario, where she’s driving a semi-truck and there’s a little girl in the middle of the road and a landslide on one side of the road and a sheer drop-off on the other and there’s someone else in the truck with her. He’s arguing, of course, that however committed she might be to her pacifist principles, there will come a time when they just won’t hold up. She’ll have to hurt somebody. It’s a clever and ridiculous dialogue and sadly, one that sounds all-too-familiar to people committed to peace. You know this opposition, right? The one that says whatever your dream is, whatever hope you have for the world, “Well, aren’t you sweet. You just wait, though. You’ll grow up a bit. You’ll see – I mean, it’s sad, ‘cause that’s a great dream, that’s a grand hope – but you’ll see why it can’t happen. Go back to sleep.” There’s that voice. Then there’s the voice of God. The one that says, “Not yet. Stay up. Look around. I want you to see something new.” And every once in a while, we hear the voice of God from someone right next to us: “Stay up. Look around.” Josh Begley’s voice is one of those. He’s trying to wake us up with this app he’s created for the iPhone. Waziristan.” A red pushpin marks that location on the map. That’s it. Begley said it “asks the question about what we choose to get notified about in real time.” But why would anyone make that choice? Why would anyone choose to be notified every time an unmanned weapon strikes children, for the crime of being unrecognizable as children, from a screen continents away? Or maybe it kills militants? Or maybe it doesn’t, and it hits their mothers? Why would you want to know that? When the prophet is setting up the words of God in Isaiah 43, he first introduces God. He says, “This is what God says – wait, do you know God? – the one who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters…” He’s calling the people to remember the story of their ancestors, a captive people who had hope that their resistance might matter, so they cried out, were heard, and they found new life. And then he mentions all the apparatus of war – chariots, and horses, armies and warriors – and he says those things are done. God lays them down. And after all that, then God says, “I am about to do a new thing. Do not even remember the old – the tools of war are not my tools – this is what I do: when you think there is no way, I make a way. In a dry and desert land, I will pour out a river, send hope gushing through. When a leader says all options are exhausted, tell him: get creative. When a well-meaning friend tells you your dream is too big, your peace is too naïve, stay up anyway. Listen. Look around.” It is hard to hear news of the world. We know that. We are secretly thankful to the reviewers at Apple for sparing us. Imagine if you were out to dinner with friends and you got a text, and you checked, just thinking it might be this other friend who’s gonna meet you later, and instead it’s a note letting you know that a drone strike just took three lives in some town you can’t pronounce. Can you eat after that? It’s hard in part because when we admit that we ignore what lives at a distance from us, we also have to ask ourselves: what is it we do not notice, we refuse to hear, where we live? Pedro Reyes looked hard and listened closely where he lived. He looked hard at the 6,700 guns he had, a fraction of what had been seized in Ciudad Juarez, part of the Mexican drug cartel violence. He thought about the lives that had been taken with them, the families destroyed. As he looked, he began to hear in his head a sort of requiem for all of that loss. So he began transforming those guns into musical instruments. He said his project is not just a protest, but a proposal. He said it occurred to him to make music, because music is the opposite of violence, and he wanted his project to illustrate the sort of transformation he hopes for the world. It’s not his first project like this: Four years ago, he melted 1,527 donated weapons to make 1,527 shovels to plant 1,527 trees. A vision as old as our prophet, who said that one day, we would beat swords into farming tools; we would end our study of war. Again, not protest, but proposal – a model of bringing life from death.

Pedro Reyes turning guns into instruments.

A screenshot of Josh Begley’s app, Drones+.

You can’t get it – reviewers at Apple have rejected it three times. First, they told him his app wasn’t entertaining. He admits that. Then, they told him it wasn’t useful. He has qualms with that. And the third time, they rejected it based on what they called “crude or objectionable content.” This, he said, there’s no way to change. The app, called Drones+, consists of a map, and each time a US drone strikes, the user is notified by a text saying, for example, “US drone strike kills 7 in

What if it’s not swords or shovels that make our gardens grow, but the creative energy invested in transforming them that seeps into the soil, too, and brings life out of it? What if it’s not that guns actually make beautiful music, but that the sorrow of the memory those guns carry can finally be heard, as someone holds the instrument gently, and calls those tones out of it? What if in everything, in everyone, there is a story that needs to be told, a soul that needs to be seen? We do a lot of protesting – we say no to violence in our language, in our neighborhoods, in our investing, in our relationships, in our theology. But transformation doesn’t happen just by saying no. A new world doesn’t come about through denial. Saying no to violence is only part of it. Saying yes to one another, to creativity and possibility and divine imagination – that’s the life-giving part. So, instead of protest, a proposal: Let’s stay up, and look around. Let’s listen hard and see deeply. The only exception will be when someone says that peace is impractical, that hope is naïve. When that happens, we’ll turn to practical matters. We’ll ask: If we look deeply, what can we discover? What in our own lives can be transformed? If guns can become flutes, can hurt become compassion? Can anger become energy? Can fatigue become stillness? Or doubt, openness? Or clutter, generosity? With all the faith and courage we can summon, may we embrace God’s new way.

Ordinary Time 2013

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker


by Nick Pickrell

F & R Recap

Dyson & King: Reflection
by Rebecca Lindley In January of this year I attended UMKC’s lecture series featuring Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Sociology Professor at Georgetown University. Although he did not attend college until he was 21, he was on the fast track and quickly made many achievements. This well known African American has many faces. He is an ordained minister, a Princeton PhD, author of over 14 books, a radio and TV host, advisor to president Obama and Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. In spite of all his accomplishments, he’s never forgotten his roots. He is a real “homeboy.” In fact, it has been said that, “He is a child of the streets, who takes pains to never separate the two (then and now). He has been described as a “street fighter in a suit and tie.” Dr.Dyson is a modern day intellectual. He has a way of speaking that makes you admire both his wit and humor. Sometimes his bluntness may offend some, but the truth he speaks and his use of charm disarms while leaving us with many new insights. He is very diverse in his thinking and writing. He has written and talked about everything from Jesus to Tupac to Jay Z. His understanding of urban youth makes relevant the work he does. He hits you in the face with statements like, “When you are aware of something that is wrong, you must do something about it.” This makes me consider the work Cherith Brook is doing. Dr. Dyson also spoke of, “a crisis as being an opportunity to do something and make a change.” Consider the change that was made when Rosa Parks refused to get up. The crisis was the bus boycott, but the change resulted in being able to sit where there was a seat. He reminded us of the “invisible” people. Those who are looked over, pushed out, ignored, incarcerated, sick, uneducated and alone. These are the very people Dr. King saw and worked so hard to include in the American Dream. What pressure do we put on our legislators to address these people, or better yet what can we, as individuals, do? Dr. Dyson says, “Basic Rights should be expanded to include all people.” I was profoundly struck when he spoke of “justice being the public face of love.” Does this mean that equal rights and privileges should be “indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” or does it mean that if we truly love one another, justice is a natural outcome? Maybe it’s a combination of both. We speak of justice and peace here at Cherith Brook and really take a stand on issues that affect those things. At Cherith Brook, peace isn’t just words but also actions. We practice justice by ensuring “our friends” are treated and served with love. After all, America was founded on the principle of freedom (justice) and the love of God. Principles we actually fought a war to claim. Dr. Dyson also spoke of Dr. King as a real radical, “one that advocates through political or social reform.” Dr. King actually thought people could be persuaded to do what was right, however he gave them distinct nudges through sit-ins, marches, rallies, and a commitment that eventually resulted in his death. “Let justice roll like a mighty river,” a phrase from his speech at the March on Washington. Let us remember how important justice was to him as he spoke so magnificently.

The division of labor can be a scary thing. In the instance of KC’s nuclear weapons manufacturing, workers are assigned to small, repetitive tasks - like turning a couple of bolts or installing a circuit board - and then it goes on to the next person. Nobody knows where the object came from or where its heading, they just know how they are to interact with it when it is before them. Because everyone works with these parts for nuclear weapons in such small ways, it allows one to go into work day after day unaware of what it is they are actually constructing. It also allows workers to distance themselves from the work they do when confronted with ethical questioning. It isn’t uncommon to hear someone say, “I don’t build nuclear weapons...I just work with circuit boards,” and know they mean well. It is all too easy for us to look the other way when we are a few steps removed from the completion of what it is we work on. At our recent Faith and Resistance Retreat, over a hundred Catholic Workers gathered in Winona, MN to raise awareness about how Winona’s silica sand mining operations enable a much larger, controversial practice to take place: fracking. Fracking is a method used to extract natural gas and oil from deep underground by “fracturing” shale rock that contains small pockets of gas and oil. This practice requires millions of gallons of water a day, many unknown chemicals, and silica sand. Because the rock being fractured is located below many aquifers, there is concern about how this practice will pollute our water supplies. There is also concern about how this practice contributes to earthquake activity, carbon dioxide emissions, and aquifer depletion. Winona is a major port city that also has lots of ideal silica sand needed for fracking. Silica sand serves as a “proppant” in fracking, meaning it props the fractured shale rock open so the gas and oil can be released. This sand also comes with a certain level of health risks. The sand, when airborne, can cause asthmatic symptoms as well as silicosis if inhaled regularly. We had a peaceful direct action at the conclusion of our retreat and we focused on shutting down operations at two main fracking related sites - both of which dealt with silica sand. The reasoning behind this particular focus was simple enough: if you shut down access to silica sand, you shut down access to an essential component needed for fracking, which would limit the ability to frack. The actions on Monday were an effective and faithful witness, with lots of media and 35 arrests, but I left that day troubled. While at one of the sites I had the opportunity to chat with one of the truckers hauling silica (continued on page 8)

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson speaking at UMKC’s MLK Lecture Series.

Dr. King was criticized for his opposition to the Vietnam War and his commitment to nonviolence, but he believed in this type of resistance! I believe Dr. Dyson has a complete and unwavering love for Dr. King. I think they would have been friends and probably disagreed on some things, but with a respect that intellectuals have and recognize in others like themselves. Dr. Dyson put it out there in a way anyone could understand. He encouraged the audience to read Dr. King’s speeches and letters, meditate on Dr. King’s actions and words, and garner the same kind of radical courage that enabled Dr. King to say what he believed to a nation that wasn’t quite ready to hear what he preached. Radical? Speaker of the truth? Dr. Dyson, Dr. King? You decide!


Cherith Brook Catholic Worker

Ordinary Time 2013

(left to right) Top row: Aaron, Henri Garbison, Clayton, Tim Chisam, Colleen, Pam Chisam, Eric Garbison Second row: Earl, Travis Krogman, Frank Kollman Third row: Dominican University students, Diana Garbison Fourth row: Patrick Magner, Minor, Gordy, Josh Armfield Fifth row: Robert, Josh Armfield, Henri Garbison, Gary Farris, Allison Rozga, Nate, Taryn Waters

Ordinary Time 2013

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker


(left to right) Top row: Nick Pickrell, Lonnie Welch, Lynsi Rahorst, Eric Garbison, Mary, Charles Karney, Rolland Smith, Josh Armfield, Elisabeth Rutschman Second row: Diana Garbison, Micah & Hazel Waters Third row: Elisabeth Rutschman, Nehemiah Rosell, Mark Bartholomew, Sr. Theresa, Jane Stoever, Diana Garbison Fourth row: Nick, Sean Ferguson, Micah, Taryn & Hazel, Jodi, Eric, Henri & Diana, Josh & Elisabeth Rutschfield, Lonnie, Sarah & Izabelle, Gary, Allison Fifth row: Michelle, Rich, Pam, Kim, Elisabeth, Tammy, Joe, Nick, Patrick Magner, Gordy


Cherith Brook Catholic Worker

Ordinary Time 2013

House Notes F & R
by Jodi Garbison continued from page 5 “Seriously!? What an amazing gift!” This was my response when I found out Eric had planned my Sabbath day away from Cherith Brook. He planned my whole day in a series of restful, rejuvenating stops starting with 3 hours at Kansas City’s arboretum. Feeling reluctant to leave my daily responsibilities for the day, the beauty of the arboretum quickly captured me. Even though it was December and not much was in bloom, I felt compelled to take everything in. As I walked, I tried to look long and hard at each new view – back and forth from detail to panorama. It occurred to me about half way through that as I intentionally look at one thing, I am missing something else. It was too much to take in even while being intentional. In a way, it felt a little discouraging.

Josh & Elisabeth on their wedding day. Photo by The Shalom Imaginative.

Josh and Elisabeth got married at the beginning of April and moved to Sweden. We have anticipated this since last summer. Because of this, we have spent a lot of time imagining how we might need to rethink the current work and routine here considering we have 2 less adults. Spending time and energy visioning for the future is necessary work but can be difficult while also trying to be fully present, enjoying the now. We realized we couldn’t do all this at once - being present, reflecting and learning from the past, and visioning for the future - but all three were vying for our attention. The eight months preparing for the wedding afforded us the chance to be present to the gift of living and working together while also giving us time to focus on what new thing God could be doing among us as a smaller community.

It has been helpful to reflect on the work sand to be processed. He was initially upset at we did in the fall to help prepare for this having to wait because of our action, which made new season at Cherith Brook. Many of the complete sense. He got paid by the truckload things we talked about then are now our and we were hurting his ability to make money. present reality. They are becoming our new From his perspective, he was just hauling sand normal. The hard work of visioning has and did not understand why we would be doing served us well in many ways. It has given us what we were doing. something to hold on to during transitions. Out of that visioning came the idea to have a spiritual guide for our community. Sister Therese Elias from the Guardian Angels Parish meets with us every 3 weeks to help us grow and process our life here. It’s been incredibly helpful as we are all in need of nurture and direction. We agreed not to make Catholic Workers preventing trucks from unloading frac sand at the Winona port. any major decisions or changes until we see how things feel with less people. We There it was though: the disconnect. Fracking made slight changes to our common purse is the controversial issue, not silica sand mining. to create something more sustainable. One This person just wanted to do his job - like many of our formerly homeless friends, Lonnie, of us - but didn’t feel connected to this issue moved in and is now on pilgrimage with us because it wasn’t affecting him directly. Not only and we are hoping for more people to join. was he not experiencing life near a place where We continue rhythms of Sabbath, prayer, fracking occurs, he didn’t even live near where wellness meetings, gardening, working with the sand was being excavated. This man was bees and chickens and constantly checking concerned about his family and didn’t have room laundry. Life continues. for much else. Through this I am realizing that to focus This is where our hard work needs to begin. on something doesn’t always mean that you This is where community building needs to take are “missing” something else but instead shape. These harmful, destructive actions of enriching it. Focusing on something doesn’t nuclear weapons manufacturing or fracking mean you are doing it at the expense of are very large and involve resources that are something else. To be present, to reflect extracted or processed in many different towns. on the past, to vision and dream about the If one town says “no” to silica sand mining or future gives us a healthy perspective and a “no” to fracking, they will move to the next town richer meaning to what we are doing. Gazuntil someone says “yes.” This is why we gather ing one place doesn’t negate the other. It together around large issues like fracking, silica brings it all into clearer focus and better sand mining, and nuclear weapons manufacturunderstanding. It is because of this we are ing. We gather together to say we don’t want able to move forward confidently rather this in anyone’s backyard, not just our own. We than fearful of the future. We are able to gather together to broaden our definition of move forward trusting in God’s faithfulness neighbor. We gather together to plant seeds of rather than being unsure of God’s provision. connectedness and community, knowing that faith and community are the only remedy to what presently ails us - because when one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt. Even if nothing is happening in my backyard.

Ordinary Time 2013

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker


Race & White Privilege:
From Conversation to Action
by John Tramel “The Negro’s greatest stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote these words exactly fifty years ago this month in a lament to White clergy in Birmingham and across the country who criticized the Civil Rights Movement. As we witness the national dialogue on race as well as everyday conversations in our own communities, his critique is every bit as relevant today as it was from the Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a nation founded on white supremacy and the systematic enslavement of Africans and colonization of Native Indians, without fully reconciling or repairing these atrocities, would find themselves in any different place. And as white people who predominately benefit from this system, we maintain the “shallow understanding” because frankly we can. It is far too easy to distance ourselves from those who live out their hateful aggression in public display while we ignore the more subtle everyday ways we all contribute to maintaining the unjust order. And if we are silent, it works out for us in the end. If we don’t have too many relationships, particularly meaningful relationships, with people of color we can remain unaffected by the atrocities still happening on a daily basis across America and beyond. If we desire to build authentic, crosscultural relationships and to ultimately build a more just world, we have to start by breaking the silence. That was the purpose of the “Race and Privilege” roundtable hosted by Cherith Brook this February. The discussion brought people together to begin to name ways we have experienced race and white privilege. White privilege was vividly clear from the start as we each shared a story about the point at which we noticed race had an impact in our lives or in our community. Most of the white people shared stories from late adolescence or early adulthood while many of the people of color in the room shared stories from very early childhood. The lesson was there for the taking: white people can easily live a good portion of their lives and not understand the impact of race while people of color are forced to learn the impact as quickly as they learn to walk and speak. We asked next for participants to share an event in their lives where they experienced or noticed white privilege. From encounters with law enforcement to experiences on college campuses or in employment settings, many potent examples followed. While the conversation was at times uncomfortable and unnerving, we all left greatly impacted with a strong desire to be vigilant in challenging the injustices of racism and white privilege around us. Yet where do we begin? There is no manual or road map per say that provides clear steps. white people must be willing to be immersed through literature, art, music and other cultural expressions in the individual and collective histories of persons of color in order to gain a broader understanding of the task at hand. The next principle – we are also the work. As white people seek to partner with people of color, we must invest in the vital work of self-critique and exploration. We have all been raised in a society that overvalues the lives, contributions, and culture of whites while devaluing and minimizing people of color. If we are not clear of the impact this constant narrative has had on our attitudes, beliefs, and behavior and work to change those things in ourselves, we will only unintentionally reinforce and minimize racism. Continuing to do the work on ourselves better equips us to educate, challenge, and inspire others toward social change. The final principle – the vast system of white supremacy must be addressed. White supremacy is the ideology of people in power that maintains and perpetuates the social, political, historical, and industrial dominance of whites. To revisit Dr. King’s lament, we cannot place our sole focus on public, overt forms of racial hatred, while ignoring the comprehensive ways all structural arrangements in our society unequally privilege whites. While it is important to work for change in individuals, we must never lose focus on the need to eliminate the policies, practices, and social norms that maintain a web of inequality. While this work seems daunting, it is possible to accomplish true justice if we partner together as people who desire to live and work where freedom, peace and justice are experienced by all. As Dr. King also said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

This year’s MLK celebration at the shower house.

Providing clear instructions for a complex issue is not always possible but a few core principles can provide a stronger direction. The following principles were adapted from Men Stopping Violence (MSV), a nonprofit organization dedicating to ending men’s violence against women. While the MSV principles were created for men, the adapted versions below can give white people an understanding of how to move from conversation to action in partnering with people of color to end racism. The first principle – the voices and experiences of people of color must be central to white people’s efforts to end racism. White people who desire to be allies must seek out leadership, accountability, and feedback from people of color striving for authentic cross-cultural relationships that promote safety and honesty. We must be willing to listen to and believe, free from defensiveness or guilt, the injustices faced by people of color in our lives and work side by side as partners to eradicate the culture that promotes these experiences. In addition,


Cherith Brook Catholic Worker

Ordinary Time 2013

by Jane Stoever

Nuke Vote Yes Campaign Action
Kansas City, Mo., voters received a barrage of negative publicity from the “vote no” camp before the April 2 election, but 23 percent of the voters still said yes to stopping future KC financing for producing parts for nuclear weapons. The vote tally was 25,006 against and 7,559 for the measure. “It’s a win!” said Rachel MacNair, campaign coordinator for “vote yes” proponents, after the polls closed April 2. “We’ve always said our strategy was to educate the public about the nuclear weapons parts plant, and our goal of making the plant and the nuclear weapons upgrade program more controversial has been achieved.” She said it was amazing to gain 23 percent of the vote in the face of the negative publicity from the opposition. ing the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Despite the fear-based mailers, many voters talked with peace activists outside the polls, and some voters said they’d vote yes because of those contacts. One voter who, on leaving the poll, said she had voted yes, was asked why. In a quiet voice, she replied, “It’s just terrible to make those weapons.” Before election day, PeaceWorks members informed the community about the peace measure through multiple activities. KKFI community radio interviewed various proponents on four programs and played a public service announcement. KCUR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, played and replayed a segment quoting MacNair and City Councilman Scott Taylor, who opposed the measure. Local TV programs such as “Week in Review” discussed all the election issues. Although The Kansas City Star editors recommended a no vote on the measure, news reporter Lynn Horsley quoted heavily from MacNair in her story originally titled “David vs. Goliath in Measure on Weapons Manufacturing.” PeaceWorks members circulated flyers at churches, offered informational cards to “Disney on Ice” attendees and to community groups, and leafleted on sidewalks. Perhaps the most flamboyant stint was the dropping of three banners above highways 71 and 670. The banners flew a few days. PeaceWorks committed $4,000 to the campaign as its major contributor. The opposition amassed more than $123,000, with donors including Honeywell, which manages the current and new KC plants for the National Nuclear Security Administration; J.E. Dunn Construction Co., which heads up construction for the new plant; and the Chicago law firm Richmond Breslin, home base to Kevin Breslin, lawyer for CenterPoint, the development company that worked with KC on the plan for public/private ownership of the new plant. Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks shared election results with national peace leaders on behalf of the KC peace community. The American Friends Service Committee disarmament coordinator, Joseph Gerson, replied, “Thank you for all that you’ve done. Born Jewish in 1946, in many ways my frames of reference are from the Second World War and the Holocaust. It would seem that … the majority of voters in KC seem to care in the short term about their well-being but, in what Hannah Arendt once termed the ‘banality of evil,’ put jobs and comfort ahead of nuclear genocide or omnicide.” The new facility for producing nonnuclear parts for nuclear weapons is almost built at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road in Kansas City. Shiny new buildings, with the production building as big as 13 football fields. Come expose the horror of America’s commitment to its nuclear arsenal. Join members of PeaceWorks, Kansas City, and other groups in supporting civil resistance at the new plant this summer. Here’s some info about the July 12-13 gathering in KC. The weekend builds on the truth-telling activism of Father Carl Kabat, OMI, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Carl, 79, has done civil resistance against nuclear weapons since the early 1980s. He was part of the first Plowshares action (King of Prussia, in Pennsylvania) with Dan and Phil Berrigan. Carl observed the last two July Fourths by “occupying” the site for the new KC plant, staying on the acreage under cover of darkness and turning himself in to authorities in the light of day. This July, Carl’s provincial superior, with the province being the United States, will join Carl in a simpler resistance, a line-crossing near the new plant’s entry. The KC-area people planning to cross the line include PeaceWorks Board members Ann Suellentrop, Jane Stoever, and Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister. We encourage people to join us as resisters or supporters! We will have a preliminary gathering for participants at 3 p.m. Friday, July 12, at Linwood United Church, 3151 Olive St. We’ll do nonviolence training, have supper, and have a festival of hope. Lodging will be provided— bring sleeping bags. We promise air conditioning. The next morning, we’ll proceed to the new plant for the resistance. We’ll gather at the church parking lot at 8:30 a.m., caravan to the new nuclear weapons parts plant by 9:15, and support those crossing the property line at about 10 a.m. We expect line-crossers to be arrested and detained. Those who wish to post bail will most likely be released that day but will need to return to KC for court later. All questions can come to Jane Stoever at 913-206-4088 or

A banner drop for the vote yes campaign.

That publicity, focusing on jobs and national security, included three pricey mailers, robo calls from Mayor Sly James, handouts from paid workers at polls, and ads in local papers. For example, a promotional insert from Freedom Inc. in The Pitch in late March said of the ballot measure, “This is a rogue issue that was placed on the ballot by initiative petition, motivated by anti-nuclear extremists who want the United States to dispose of its nuclear weapons while other nations keep theirs.” When, earlier, the second mailer from the “vote no” camp made the same charge, MacNair countered that peace groups are calling for multilateral, not unilateral, disarmament, and the third mailer carried revised language. However, that third mailing featured North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to turn Washington, D.C., into a sea of fire—a way to call for strengthen-

Ordinary Time 2013

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker


by Tim Brown

A Lesson in Tipping Points
and love and laughter. She found people she could talk to and who were willing to go the extra mile to help her. She found people who would make it possible for her to reconnect with her family in Rockford, IL. “I have slept in abandoned buildings and have been totally unsure of what will happen next.” Tammy explained. “I was concentrating on survival. Still, I longed to go home. I desperately wanted to attend my sister’s wedding reception. I mentioned that to the people at Cherith Brook and they made it happen. They made it possible for me to take the Mega Bus home to Rockford. It was the first time I had been home in years and it was a wonderful reception and my reunion with my family was unforgettable.” She hadn’t been home because she didn’t want her family to know about her addiction and her homelessness. To her surprise, her family welcomed her with open arms and, in her words, with “unconditional love.” The trip home changed her life. The trip home was a tipping point. It is one of the reasons she volunteers at Cherith Brook. “It’s a way for me to give back and it helps keep me focused on my goal of moving back to Rockford. It’s simple. If you hang out with positive people, you will do positive things. After a morning at Cherith Brook, well, I just feel happy.” she said. Tammy still has a court case pending, which is keeping her in Kansas City for the time being. “That is in God’s hands,” she said. “But, no matter what happens, things are different now because I have a positive goal.” When she returns home to Rockford to live with her family, she will have crossed another major threshold and she thanks Cherith Brook for being part of the critical mass that allowed her to dream about reaching that important tipping point.

House Needs
Coffee Sugar, Creamer Vinegar (gallon size for cleaning) Baking Soda Dish Soap Toilet Paper Milk, Eggs, Butter Black Beans Energy Saving Light Bulbs Stamps Old candles Canning lids Hand-crank Honey Extractor Straw Bales Bus Passes (one-rides)

A tipping point is the threshold of change...the moment when the pressure of many small events reaches a critical mass and gives rise to change. It’s like water slowly dripping through a levy that it will eventually destroy in a flood of change. The Internet changed the way we communicate. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech changed the way we think. The Wright brothers showed us that we can fly -- all tipping points, caused by the unyielding pressure of many small events. While they are necessarily less public, our personal tipping points are equally important. Some are good. Some are bad, but they all change the way we see the world.

Shower Needs
Shoes (esp. men’s 10-13) Shorts (men & women’s) Jeans & Belts (30-34, 4-6) Boxers & Panties (S & M, 4-7) Shampoo & Conditioner Spray Deodorant White Socks (esp. men’s) Foot Powder Toothbrushes Tampons & Pads Ibuprofen, Tylenol, & Allergy Laundry Soap (high efficiency) Shaving cream & Razors Lotion Body Wash Jackets Ball Caps Washcloths

Tammy knows about tipping points. Ask her when she first used crack cocaine and she’ll answer, “September 3, 1992.” She remembers the exact date because it was the same day that she ended an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. Removing the abuser from her life was a good decision. Experimenting with crack was a bad one. It led to addiction, to homelessness, a self-imposed separation from her family and lingering legal issues. She thinks it was a tipping point that took her from the frying pan into the fire. Today, Tammy is no longer homeless. She is a Cherith Brook volunteer and has solid, reachable dreams that do not include addiction to anything except love of family. She thinks that many small acts of kindness that she has received from her family and from Cherith Brook have allowed her to change her life. She was homeless the first time she visited Cherith Brook, which was just over a year ago. She needed a shower, clean clothing and something to eat, so she came. She found all that and more. She found smiles

Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
3308 East 12th Street Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 241-8047

Our Who Are We? Schedule
Community—Cherith Brook is a residential Christian community committed to sharing table fellowship with strangers, and all our resources with one another. We have found our inspiration from the early church and the Catholic Worker. Mercy—Our daily lives are structured around practicing the works of mercy as found in Jesus’ teachings. We are committed to regularly feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, visiting the prisoner and the sick in the name of Jesus. Peacemaking—As followers of Jesus, we understand our lives to be centered in God’s Shalom. Cherith Brook strives to be a “school” for peacemaking in all its dimensions: political, communal, and personal; working constantly to undo poverty, racism and militarism. These three orbs can be summed up as the struggle to connect with the God of life. We pray that Cherith Brook is a space where all of us—the broken— can come to learn and relearn the ways of Jesus; a place to struggle together for God’s call of love, mercy, peace and justice. Showers Prayers Community Meal Women’s Day M, T, Th, F M, W, F Th 8 am–noon 7–7:30 am 5–7 pm 11:30 am–2 pm

Upcoming Events
June 22 @ 10 - 5pm Urban Grown Farms & Gardens tour at Cherith Brook July 12 - 13 KC nuclear weapons gathering & action. No work day in July July 21 - August 4 Cherith Brook closed. No Women’s Day in July September 27 - 28 Festival of Shelters liturgy and “night out” October 18 @ 7 - 8:30pm Roundtable discussion. Topic TBD

Monthly, Last Wed

Garden Workday M 2-5 pm Group Workday Roundtable Discussions Monthly, 2nd Sat Monthly, 3rd Fri 9 am–1 pm 7 pm–9 pm

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