’s Mercy & Gospel Obe dienc icing God e Pract
C A T H O L I C
W O R K E R
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
Covenant for 2014
Each year our community members go on retreat to revisit our covenant commitments to this work and to one another. As we look back we ask how were we faithful to the Gospel’s message of nonviolence, community, hospitality and simplicity? How did we fall short? Each year we look forward, what is God calling us to be in this next season of life? Perhaps it is something to let go? Perhaps it is something to deepen? As we discern these questions, we ask for God to nurture a desire to follow the radical Christ and to live into that brave new world God is birthing among us. We publish this covenant every year as a public witness to our commitments. It is not a declaration of having arrived. We are well aware of how much we fall short of this calling. And yet, we do not allow our flaws to be an excuse. Publishing the covenant invites accountability and inspires hope for what we are called to be. By sharing with you what we have learned, we also wish to encourage others to devote in new and deeper ways to being a living People of God. This year we hope it will invite some of you to consider if you are called to join us in this work. It is a beautiful life filled with grace and joy. Will you join us? 1. We commit to a life of discipleship, following Jesus, cross bearing, acting on our reflections and reflecting on our actions. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34 2. We commit our daily lives to practicing hospitality: Listening for the knock and looking for the face of Jesus in stranger and friend, while receiving from them God’s welcome of us. “I was hungry…thirsty…a stranger…naked… sick…and in prison…and you helped me.” Matthew 25:34-46 3. We commit our daily lives to pursing the nonviolence of God’s Shalom embodied in Jesus’ life, teachings, death and resurrection. We will pursue the peace struggle in all relationships (with ourselves, each other, and our enemies) and all places (on the streets, in our city, our country and our world). “Love your enemies,” and “Overcome evil with good.” Luke 6:27-36 and Romans 12:21 4. We commit to the journey of forgiveness in all relationships, striving toward reconciliation in ways that recognize the differences in each person. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
5. We commit to common living. i. We will play and celebrate together; ii. We will share in the work of the house and garden; iii. We will eat together; iv. We will worship together; v. We will practice a weekly prayer rhythm and encourage personal prayer, reflection and solitude; vi. We will live locally, present to our neighborhood and community; vii. We will share in the process of decision making striving for full agreement; viii. We will practice Sabbath rhythms—creating space for rest; ix. We will hold our finances & resources in common; x. We will work less than 20 hours a week outside the community; xi. We will nurture intimacy and friendship among us; There are many other ways of resisting the idolatries of Empire. We celebrate those as well. “All who believed were together and had all things in common…,” Acts 2:44, 4:32 6. We commit to prayerful discernment: listening to God and to each other, listening to scripture and trusting in the presence of the Spirit in our lives, “…be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 7. We commit to being servants of creation, caring for the earth and her resources, striving for simplicity over busyness, participating in that New World God is creating in the shell of the Old. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 8. We commit to living at a personal economic sacrifice: trusting daily for God’s provision, sharing freely and living off the excess of our culture. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 9. We commit to shaping our lifestyles around Jesus and his manifesto in the Sermon on the Mount living in expectation of his return. “… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Parent in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
by Sr. Therese Elias
we are truly people of prayer, our lives will be disturbed. We will never be the same. Deep prayer, like prophecy, is about, in Merton’s words, “unmasking the illusions.” In prayer my illusions about myself appear for what they are. from seemingly ineffectual action can often be an awakening, an opportunity to face our motivation for the work we do. Do we want to win? Is our involvement pragmatic rather than prophetic? Merton speaks to the activist’s ‘bane’ – the will to power: “Nonviolence is not for power but for truth. It is not aimed at immediate political results, but at the manifestation of fundamental and crucially important truth. It does not say ‘We shall overcome’ so much as ‘This is the day of the Lord, and whatever may happen to us, He shall overcome.’”(CGB) The activist rooted in contemplative prayer is deeply empowered by the Spirit of God. Worse than the prophet facing burnout, and much more dangerous, is the self-righteous prophet who sees the splinter in the other’s eye but cannot see the plank in their own. If I do not recognize and integrate my personal shadow, I will project it onto the other. I see the other as “wrong” or “evil,” and myself as right and good. The greatest tragedies of history have come from supposed holy, righteous people projecting their unintegrated shadow onto others. We know this from the crusades, witch hunts, the inquisition, racism, and from every war in which the enemy is demonized so that I/we can appear righteous and pure. Contemplatives can better deal with the misguided illusions of the world because they are facing it in themselves: “We have met the enemy and they is us!” (Pogo) Merton – like all the great mystics – saw a bigger picture of who we are as human beings. He saw to the heart of everything that is. “The world is created and redeemed by Christ, and thus can be encountered in the ground of my own person freedom and love. If the deepest ground of my being is love, then in that very love itself and nowhere else, will I find myself, and the world, and my brothers and sisters and Christ. The same ground of love is in everything.” (CWA) Contemplative prayer is itself a prophetic act. Through deep prayer we enter into union with all humanity, with all reality. In prayer we not only release our own personal idols to be consumed by love but, through our connection with the Spirit we share, release the sinfulness of all humanity to the love of God. Contemplative prayer helps heal the world.
Thomas Merton left New York City in December, 1941, to become a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane in the hills of Kentucky. In the view of society, he was leaving the world for a life wholly separate from ordinary existence. Merton admits that this was not far from his own belief at the time though, over the years, his vision was to shift significantly. Through his prayer, Merton came to realize a profound sense of communion with the rest of humanity. He came to see that his life as a monk was integrally linked to the world he thought he was leaving behind. “My solitude is not my own,” he wrote. (CGB) Merton was clear in his emphasis that, if our prayer is true, it can never separate us from the life of others. “The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream.” Worse, he continues, it is a form of “self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.” (CGB) Merton had left the “world” for a hidden life of prayer and, in time, was transformed into a prophet. Henri Nouwen defines a prophet as “one struck by the word of God; one whose life has been disrupted, and through whom God disrupts the lives of others.” A life lived contemplatively disrupts one’s ordinary consciousness. “Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. . . Contemplation is no pain-killer. It is a terrible breaking and burning of idols, a purification of the sanctuary, so that no graven thing may occupy the place that God has commanded to be left empty: the center, the existential altar that simply “is”. (NS) To engage in a life of contemplative prayer commits one to a searing inner assessment, to a willingness to have one’s life disrupted. If
“Where am I going to look for the world first of all, if not in myself? The world is not just a physical space . . .The world is a complex of responsibilities and options made out of the loves, the hates, the fears, the joys, the hopes, the greed, the cruelty, the kindness, the faith, the trust, the suspicion of all. In the last analysis, if there is war . . . this is in part because I myself am defensive, suspicious, untrusting . . .” (CWA) Merton was a companion and mentor for prominent anti-war and civil rights activists of his time. His message was clear: the prophet must be a contemplative. We cannot be a critic of the world out there unless we are also involved in an inner critique. True prophets take a critical stance toward their own ego-centrism before taking it up in the world. True prayer brings us face to face with our own personal idols. This awareness prepares us to confront the idols of the nation. The supposed “prophet” who is not truly praying engages in shallow activism. Armed with our own limited ego’s resources we do not have the strength to deal with the evils of the larger group. We become easily discouraged and soon experience burnout. Every activist would do well to encounter burnout sooner or later. The disappointment and fatigue that emerge
“We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God” -Thomas Merton
CGB Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Henri Nouwen, Contemplative Critic CWA Contemplation in a World of Action
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
...In a World of Action
by Henry Stoever At a Friday night Clarification of Thought Session at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, Benedictine Sister Therese Elias gave us wonderful quotes and reflections about Thomas Merton’s writings and his spiritual interior life. Merton was a contemplative living as a Trappist monk at Gethsemani Abbey, in Kentucky. Although Merton was allowed to write his bestselling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), about his conversion to Catholicism and becoming a monk, and he wrote many spiritual books, in 1962 the Abbot General in Europe required Merton to cease publishing his writings on war and peace. Soon, however, Merton’s own abbot in Kentucky allowed him to send those writings piecemeal to friends. I was disturbed to learn from Sister Therese of the ban of Merton’s works. Merton died December 10, 1968. I had turned 20 years of age the day before Merton’s death, and I was becoming increasingly concerned about what our country was doing as a military power, and in particular the ravages committed in Vietnam. In December 1969, I applied for conscientious objector status, was in a state of limbo for a period of time, then I went face to face with my influence in raising moral, spiritual and ethical questions. Later we learned that 3.8 million Vietnamese lost their lives in that war, many more were wounded and disabled, and others suffered birth defects due to the toxic chemicals we poured on their country. I feel that the Catholic Church and Merton’s Abbot General acted cowardly in not raising serious moral, spiritual, ethical and legal arguments to what our country was doing in Vietnam and in other countries. Those acts of power politics, environmental destruction, possession of nuclear weapons, acts of greed, etc. continue to this day. Jesus not only went to the desert to contemplate, Jesus also went to the Temples and the marketplaces, challenge the religious and political leaders of his time. Jesus turned the tables upside down, and demanded that the poor be given justice and life-sustaining resources, and Jesus suffered death. It is not enough to be a contemplative, for it is late in the day that we act to save our planet, act with justice and become a true follower of Christ. James 2:14-18 states that faith and good deeds must go together, for we cannot be true believers without both, “How does it help,
“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” - Thomas Merton
Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith. You believe in the one God – that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless?” Therefore, contemplation and action are essential, and one cannot exist without the other. Editor’s Note: How many of us practice a form of faith that keeps us cloistered behind walls of church and home? After studying, discussing and praying about peace, we think our work is finished. Others have felt apologetic for spending time in contemplation, adoration, liturgy, silence when there is much justice work to be done. Please do not read these two thoughtful reflections as opposing viewpoints. Our desire is to promote a way of discipleship that is “both/and” not “one versus the other.” Following Christ calls us to deeper integration in our life of discipleship—prayer and work, contemplation and action are essemtial to this journey.
draft board. I told them in good conscience, I could not serve in the military, and requested conscientious objector status, which later I received. Catholicism was not considered a traditional peace church. I ask myself why in good conscience this Catholic faith did not use its full force to raise moral, spiritual and legal questions on war. If Merton could produce a best-seller book, then Merton, if given free rein, could have had an even more immense
my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith: if good deeds donot go with it, it is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds?
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Warming Up to Consciousness
By Dominic When asked to write this article, I was at first hesitant to accept the invitation for lack of a subject. But, as chance would have it, I happened to be reading abook titled Handbook for Higher Consciousness. The topic had always been of interest for me because I perceived higher consciousness coming with Superman’s ability to leap over high buildings, Keanu Reeves bending over backwards to avoid oncoming bullets in the Matrix and holy gurus’ inclinationto levitate as a tool for getting a better look at the neighborhood. The truth is that I did not have a clue about what the experience of true consciousness really is. Interestingly enough it is not about super heroes or dodging bullets. I have even decided to start using a second floor window when needing to get a better look at the neighborhood. Consciousness is a hard thing to understand. You might think of it like the wind; you can not see it until you until you “see” it pushing something else around. It is an unrealized something that can sneak up on us while we’re not looking. That idea brings to mind the story of what happens when a frog is put in pot of hot water. It jumps out immediately. However, when put in a pot with cold water where the heat is gradually turned up, the frog remains perfectly content to stay put until becoming part of the dinner menu.With a respectable stretch of the imagination, you might think of the ‘Cherith Brook catholic Worker’* shower house as the pot in which this particular frog has been warming up. But, Wait, please. Let’s go back a bit. If I were to tell the frog story to any one of my grandchildren, the response would certainly be: “Grandpa that is a horrible thing to do to a frog.” So, keeping that in mind, from here at least, you will need to read this as an article about consciousness, not stew. The ingredients are totally different.The theme is not about moving from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”; it’s about being “moved” from the Ugly and the Bad toward the Good. The Ugly and Bad that I’m thinking of is that our lives are caught up in a storm full of conflicting, distorted and manipulated information. It is so turbulentthat very few have neither the ability nor the interest nor the time necessary to sort through the hurricane level of information that form the basis ofconsciousness. Many of us are facing the demands of caring for our children, our aging parents, our suffering friends and even our neighbors living in need around the world,all at the same time. Debts, threats of terrorism, natural disasters, global warming and political corruption are all part of an overwhelming, oppressive environment that goes on and on. Add to all of this the persuasive advertising media that is so charmingly and perniciously telling us we must have so much more of what we already have too much. How can our lives not be full of anxiety and its proportional amount of numbness? This world that we live in is akin to that of the orphaned Oliver Twist asking for gruel: “Please Sir; more, can I please have some more?” who then turns and runs in fear of punishment from the contemptuous, selfindulgent overseer of the orphan. Oliver’s escape moves him from the Ugly to the Bad. He is drawn into a life of abusive manipulation and crime. As he struggles with his conscience over right and wrong he meets some but few others on the same journey. There is the inevitable struggle between evil and good where the innocent suffer most. If you look closely, it is the same journey that we are on, calling us to consciousness. The underlying questions become: How do we go about making good choices? How do we discern the Bad from the Good?Where do we go for help? I would purpose it is accomplished through the people we meet and the places we go. Having said all that, I’d like go back to the Good which is where I’ve wanted to be from the beginning. A minimally known place called Cherith Brook is the pot where this particular frog has been warming up. It is located at 3308 East 12th Street, Kansas City, MO. I can not say there is anything mystical there. It is more about good, holy people working hard, while tirelessly caring about the well being of others. It is just a WOW kind of place! One of the first things you will hear when coming to Cherith Brook is that it is a place of peace where everyone is welcome without prejudice. It is a place in which all of us are called but not so many choose to go. It is a place where people living on the street can come for a breakfast meal, a hot shower and clean clothes, all part of an affirming community experience without questions or prerequisites. It is the “warming pot” I’m referring that can be found, acclimating its guests, volunteers andfrogs to a new level of consciousness. There are a great many more things that you can say about Cherith Brook. It is a battered island in the middle of a hostile sea. It is an oasis in the desert. Rain water is conserved for its home grown vegetables and newly planted fruit trees. The staff raises chickens and tends its own bee colony. There is a vibrant garden in the midst of hot concrete streets. It is a refuge for the weary and a consolation for the troubled. It can be a sanctuary for those seeking discernment. There are no luxuries but there is a cornucopia of riches. It is the paradox that comes with an alternate view of wealth. Such consciousness is about seeing things in new ways. It’s putting aside the prejudices acquainted with broken neighborhoods, inexperienced environments, and those stories about unknown demons that lie on the “other” side of town. Marginalized people of color, of other races, and others living inthe paralyzing poverty of distressed neighborhoods are everyday facing the same problems that we, our best friends and our neighbors face, only more so. Unfortunately, the safety nets that we rely on as readily available are not necessarily a part their environments. Realizing consciousness is about making choices to step into a warming pot. It can’t be done by writing a check or getting all dressed up for the Catholic Charities “Snowball” Fundraiser, which is a good thing but will never warm your Heart. You need to get into the pot.There is no other way. It is a process that has unbelievable results. It’s difficult to understand; even more difficult to explain.You will learn something about humility. Your values will change. You will sleep better. Your relationships will grow and your love life will improve. Remember always: It is just a matter of just “Warming up to Consciousness!”
*P.S. ‘catholic’ is not a grammatical error.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
in a Catholic Worker House
by Diana Garbison
Many people, when they first meet me, ask me what it’s like to grow up in a Catholic Worker. My answer is always, fun! There’s always something do. There is hardly, any time where it’s dead around here. People are usually coming and going, or just spending the night. I also meet a variety of people, if they are homeless or just volunteering. One of the greatest person that I’ve met through a catholic worker, is my best friend, Izabelle Cool. Every year there is a Faith and Resistance retreat, which is where Catholic Workers gather in a city and speak out about something. In past events, the Catholics Workers of Kansas City (Cherith Brook and Holy Family House) hosted the Faith and Resistance, to protest the nuclear bomb plants here in Kansas City. Actions are an interesting experience. One of the actions that I can remember clearly, is the one that took place at Blackwater. At that time, I was learning more about the Catholic Worker. I was still learning the purpose of Gospel Obedience. I remember it being kind of scary. Wondering why people were getting arrested for believing in what’s right, or for just simply crossing a line, especially my friends and family. Now I understand clearer, when we protested the building of the new bomb plant in Kansas City on 150 highway and Botts Road in May of 2011, I was not afraid. This time, both of my parents were arrested, partly because I wasn’t afraid anymore. I wish that my friends, could understand the Catholic Worker way of life like I do. In comparison, their lives are so much different. They and their parents don’t understand what their taxes pay for, they don’t know the names of people flying signs off exit ramps, but I do. I might not know any current anything on TV, but I know the names of people of the casta-sides of Kansas City.
What Would You Do?
Defendants Respond to Judge Bland
On December 13, 2013 Judge Ardie Bland of the KC Municipal Court found nine nuclear resisters guilty of trespassing on the new Kansas City Nuclear Parts Plant at 150 Hwy and Botts Rd. His sentence is worth noting: each defendant was required to write responses to six essay questions. Lawyer Bill Quigley of Loyola University in New Orleans commented, “Wonderful news. … A just sentence, who would have thought?” We offer you a selection of the essays. See the Kansas City Peaceworks website http://www.peaceworkskc.org/judgeasks.html for the complete essays of each defendant. Each a beautiful witness to the Gospel of Peace. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”? The superpower status of the U.S. rests on its nuclear weapons superiority in the world. It has the most advanced and enhanced nuclear weapons and delivery systems on planet earth. If the U.S. would take the first honest step towards total nuclear weapons abolition, other nations would follow. The majority of the people in the world do not want to kill each other, nor do they want the nuclear weapons threat to continue! In the spirit of the NonProliferation Treaty, the abolition would be a process in which possibly the U.S. could call a worldwide convention of all nations to set a firm date when abolition will be completed. The nuclear nations would have to submit plans and timetables of their abolition process, inspections protocols, ending enrichment of uranium and taking existing weapons off ready-to-fire modes as preliminary actions. Any nation that would refuse to join in the abolition would be subject to world-wide trade sanctions. If the U.S. would take these steps, it would not lose the opportunity to fight global annihilation, but would win back its humanity. Millions around the world are dying from lack of resources that could go for human needs rather than these death-dealing instruments. In this question from the judge, he asked what we would say to those who believe we’d lose the opportunity to fight back against a nuclear attack if we had no nuclear weapons. But we would not lose the opportunity to fight against nuclear bondage. I believe if the U.S. took the first step toward a nuclear-weaponsfree world, other nations would follow. There’s a deep cry among the people of the world that they need the resources for their families instead of for weapons. They need funding for health care, nutrition, employment, housing. They want these desperately and are not getting them. I believe so strongly that if we took the first step, there is the will to stop killing each other. It doesn’t mean we won’t have differences, but we could work them out around the table and not in trenches. Martin Luther King said it is no longer a question of violence or nonviolence but a question of nonviolence or nonexistence. That’s what’s staring us in the face if we continue on the path we’re on. Gandhi said, “Nonviolence, when it becomes active, travels w extraordinary velocity, and then it becomes a miracle!” When we consider the civil rights movement, look at what that achieved thru nonviolence. And look at the farmworkers’ movement with Cesar Chavez; it’s brought about such change, with farmworkers being able to form unions. We cannot be hopeless. We cannot think disparagingly of nonviolence. It puts us on the level of being brothers and sisters. Jesus was inspired by Isaiah with a vision of people climbing a mountain, beating swords into plowshares. In Chapter 9 of Isaiah: a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! The prince of peace has broken the rod that kept the people oppressed and has thrown all the battle gear into the fire, and it has burned. Jesus kept alive the vision of Isaiah that the people so longingly cherished. It’s a process. The first thing we have to do, and hopefully the U.S. would take the lead, is to set a worldwide convention to call for elimination of all nuclear weapons by a given date. All weapons don’t disappear immediately. Each nation with nuclear weapons or fissile material for such weapons would have to submit a plan for how to get rid of its weapons, set up inspection teams, pledge that it will make no first strike with its weapons, and take its nuclear weapons off ready-to-fire, alert status. Sadly, one-fourth of the US strategic nuclear weapons—those that are available to be exploded—are on alert status. Clearly, we have to have international control of the mining of uranium and must outlaw enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons. Further, the U.S. Senate needs to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Taking these steps, we have a chance to win back our humanity. Essay by Bix Bichsel, SJ If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion? This question seems to suggest that my opposition to nuclear weapons might be altered if anContinued on Page 10
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
by Eric Garbison Woe to you who don’t have backyard chickens! Happy are you who keep a flock; You will inherit fertilized earth. As Jesus taught, “if God loves the chicks of this world, how much more will God care for you and me.” What about his parable of the urban homesteader who realized she was missing a hen and left the rest of her flock to go find it. Jesus scandalized the religious leaders when he said, “it won’t be the Tysons of this world but the little flocks that belong to the Kingdom of God!” So raise some chickens, your salvation may depend on it. City Chickens are not a new idea, of course. None of our ideas are; they’re just so old they look new. We are not urban farmers so you do not have to be either. We only want to testify—raising chickens in your backyard is a chance to practice ordinary gospel simplicity, to create a new world in the eggshell of the old. Carpe Diem ! (means literally “pluck the day” ) This is our fifth year of raising chickens and preach poultry we must! So those who have ears, let them hear. We pass along our kernels of insight in hopes to share with other practioners and to convert those of you who aren’t. First—frame your decisions around the following questions: How can we do it without costing money (capitalism loves to commodify grass roots movements)? How do we keep it to match the scale of our life and needs (more is not always better)? How can we eliminate the use of non-renewable resources (heating a coop robs Peter to pay Paul) ? How can the part be incorporated into the whole (How will chickens benefit our fruit trees or improve our composting) ? Think Little—If you chose a strong laying breed you will get 250-280 eggs a year. You could start with 2-4 chickens and during most of the year get a dozen a week. This size will be easy to manageable and bring joy to your family. Partnering— Travel is one of the excuses folks give. Partner with your neighbor to share the responsibilities and benefits. You could even get a slightly larger flock (5-10). Partnership provides you with mutual support for daily feeding and gathering. It also doubles the table scraps and yard waste recycled, divides feed costs, and connects you to your neighbors. Those who could benefit the most don’t have the disposable income to cover startup costs, don’t have yard space, or their landlords don’t allow “pets.” You may need to host the yard, but the responsibility can be shared. Partnership can help us span the economics that divide uis. Gift Eggs— Another reason to choose a larger flocks is gifting. Here we get almost three dozen a day and most of our eggs are for breakfast for our homeless friends. But there is something tantalizing about home grown eggs. Many volunteers and neighbors ask for them. So now we set aside a giftdozen to be given away every week. Butcher or Bust—Before you take the leap, decide how you will deal with your hens when they age. Productivity drops off sharply after 3-4 years. This makes butchering a necessity. The danger is turning chickens into pets. In 2012 Americans spent $52 million on their pets; apparently this was down from $61 million in 2011. We must consider husbandry from a justice point of view; we pamper our pets while folks go hungry and homeless. This will only undo all of the ecological, economic and edible benefits of our initial efforts. So resolve how you will handle this before you get sentimental. When others are involved, even your own determination can be vetoed. If you’re a vegetarian or don’t have the heart to butcher, find someone who will. Many immigrant groups in our neighborhood are use to butchering their own meat and would be glad to take them off your hands. Mildred was our solution. Early on she was the community favorite. There was an outcry to butchering her so, of the first dozen, she was spared. This turned out to be wise; Older hens tutor the young in proper foraging. And she still lays a few eggs. Now that we’ve had multiple flocks the romance has worn off. Annual butchering has become less of an issue. If these solutions don’t satisfy, you can always preach poultry; gifting someone with a gentler, older hen can be a great way to break them in. Freegan Foul —Feed prices rise and fall with annual grain market. It can get expensive especially as winter comes on. If your flock is smaller, they do well on yard and kitchen waste and will work over your compost pile. We probably have 2-3 gallons of food scraps a day and it goes straight to the coop. They devour meat products before it becomes an issue. The variety of waste is a natural balanced diet and they turn it into fertilizer. If you flock is smaller Continued on Page 11
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
by Jodi Garbison We saw sun yesterday! It was the first time in several months. We had a couple days of 59-degree weather last week. Even though we’re back to 32 and a long way off from putting our long johns away, we are emerging from these cold months with hope. As we thaw, our eyes are open to see bees busy outside their hives. We have moved a new batch of chickens from the basement to live outside and establish their new “order”. Seeds are planted, waiting under the light to get their chance in the sun. We have so much to be hopeful about! I guess spring is hopeful for everyone, everywhere but it feels especially hopeful to us. It has been a full year of significant transitions but also a time for growth. We are especially thankful and hopeful this spring! Thankful to no longer ask “how are we going to make it with fewer people?” to saying, “we are actually making it with fewer people” and feeling energized to vision and dream again. God has been good and faithful to us! At first I didn’t want to write house notes but once I started listing the wonderful happenings around us I couldn’t resist. (“couldn’t resist” is a stretch but…) 1. We continue to host monthly Roundtable discussions, learning and gleaning from people who challenge us to live more thoughtfully and intentionally. (Sr. Therese Elias, Brian Terrell and Rob Hoch) 2. Katherine is our winter/spring intern. She has given significant nurture to our young chickens. Thankfully, Katherine is from the Kansas City area which means we will get to see her and our friendship will continue long beyond her internship. 3. As many of you know, our shower friend Tommy, has struggled through many months sleeping outside. He is unable to care for himself and/or his money. The good news is that Tommy got housing in November. We are uncertain how long this will last but know that he is now in someone’s care who will watch over him and he is no longer vulnerable on the streets. 4. Henri and Diana are both finishing their 8th grade year. (What!? High School next year!) 5. We were able to raise all the money we needed in order to fix the caving roof. Thanks to many of you, we got what we needed to fix the roof not only on the house but the patch on the building that wasn’t done correctly 3 years ago. Thanks so much to all of you! 6. With fewer people living here at Cherith Brook, we have been encouraged by deeper relationships with our extended community in the neighborhood. Living here has a unique covenant and set of demands so we recognize the strength of continued rootedness that these relationships offer us. It has been a gift! We are thankful for God’s provision of relationships in extended community and hopeful that God will bring people to live residentially with us soon. 7. We continue to meet with Sr. Therese Elias. She offers the three covenanting members a listening ear, gentle guidance and seasoned wisdom. We realize how fortunate we are to have her with us each month. 8. For the second time since Cherith Brook opened in 2007, we offered a 2-day training for Non-Violent Communication. 23 people attended, including volunteers, community members, neighbors and friends from the streets. What powerful tools and practices in order to further the hope of a non-violent world. So as you can see, there’s a lot to be aware of in terms of God’s presence and faithfulness to us. We sometimes miss it because of difficulty, what seems like scarcity, pain and suffering around us. But living in community offers us different perspectives and reminders of God’s goodness to us and the world. It begs us not to be defeated by situations, by despair, or feelings of being overwhelmed but to hope in the resurrected Christ and live that way. We have leaned heavily on each other this year and we are not weaker for it but stronger! We have much to celebrate!
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
What Would You Do...
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other country utilized a nuclear weapon against a city in the United States. In that case, might I be persuaded to seek revenge against the aggressor nation in retaliation by sending a nuclear attack back against the citizens in that country? Emphatically, I would answer that I would not change my opposition to nuclear arms. On the contrary, it would intensify my efforts to work for the abolition of all nuclear armaments for several very definite reasons. First, despite all of the American cultural messages that attempt to persuade us that we can win peace and safety by responding to violent actions by engaging in further violence, I am quite sure that revenge of this type never works. As Gandhi asserted, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…just leaves us all blind and toothless.” Revenge does not lead to a resolution of problems and disagreements. It leads to an escalation of more violence. Whatever the cause of the deep-seated hatred, animosity, desperation and break in human relationships that led to the initial act of violence, a violent response will not resolve the situation or eliminate the bitterness that fueled the violent aggression in the first place. My faith tradition as a Christian compels me to search for creative ways to respond nonviolently to such acts. The futile unsuccessful attempt to reduce the violent acts of “terrorists” in the so-called “war on terrorism” should demonstrate the simple truth that responding to violence with further violence simply does not work…it leads to the production of more enemies with an even greater level of determination to hurt us back. The cycle of violence only continues to intensify and spiral beyond all expectations. Second, by virtue of the technology of the modern media the mere fact that all of the world would immediately witness in real time the unspeakable human tragedy and devastation that would be caused by the use of a nuclear weapon on a city would surely cause me to intensify my resolve to eliminate this threat of mass destruction. A cataclysmic event of such destruction would completely eclipse the capacity of emergency responders and institutions to effectively handle the scale of human suffering and misery that would be produced. Nuclear bombs are now capable of causing far more damage than the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Furthermore, we now know that the spread of radiation around the world would produce long-lasting detrimental effects on the environment and genetically affect generations of human survivors. Any use of atomic weapons could have a deleterious effect on the populations of both the aggressor nation and the victim nation. Surely, we would be even more resolved to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction when confronted by the results of their utilization! Third, I would continue to believe that it is morally wrong to utilize weapons of mass destruction to murder innocent civilian populations. There really is no such thing as a “just war” or a “good war” for the “right reasons.” War is simply murder writ large. A nuclear war would cause so much destruction and human misery that it should be unthinkable. In a world of hatred, bitterness and resentment and violent “solutions,” it is only love and creative nonviolent responses that will have any hope of healing and mending the broken human relationships between people and nations which find themselves at odds with one another. Witnessing the murder of people, creatures and creation itself would increase my resolve to oppose the continued presence of nuclear weapons on our planet. Essay by Georgia Walker If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would that change your opinion? The use of nuclear weapons by any nation, then or now, would only further convince me of the need to eliminate them from the earth. Germany gave up its development of an atomic bomb in 1942. Japan had no capacity to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. After the end of the first World War (1918) and before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, if there had been a similar plan of reconstruction and hope for Germany (similar to the Marshall Plan following World War II), many opine that it would be unlikely that a “savior-figure Hitler” would have emerged to create the horrors of the second War. In May of 2010, there was an international gathering in New York City for renewal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty regarding nuclear weapons. Among the thousands who witnessed the impassioned speech of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, I was privileged to be present. Practically in tears he pleaded with all of us (especially from those States having the majority of nuclear weapons, i.e., the U.S. and Russia) to urge our governments to cease the manufacture and storage of nuclear weapons. On May 11, 1970, a total of 190 parties had joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear weapons states. On May 11, 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. According to the Treaty, “the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war.” On September 27, 2013, a Vatican official challenged the sincerity of the U.S. and other major nuclear powers’ disarmament efforts during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. He said, “Under the terms of the Nonproliferation Treaty, states are enjoined to make ‘good faith’ efforts to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons. Can we say there is ‘good faith’ when modernization programs of the nuclear weapons states continue despite their affirmations of eventual nuclear disarmament?” So we can wonder: How is it that since the 2010 Renewal of the Nonproliferation Treaty, that the United States has updated and rebuilt these nuclear weapons complexes - Y-12 in Oakridge, Tennessee, the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico and the vast new nuclear weapons complex in Kansas City, Missouri? Plus there is the huge number of Trident missile warheads stored at the Navy sub base in Bangor, Washington, enough to blow up the whole world. Essay by Jerry Zawada, OFM
by Na Na
We watch the rich and famous, Bedecked in precious jewels, Enjoyed earthly pleasures, Defying moral rules. And in our mood discontent we sink into despair and long for earthly riches and feel cheated of our share. But stop These idle musings, God has stored up for you treasures that are far beyond earth’s jewels, and riches, too For never, never discount what God has promised man, if he will walk in meekness and accept God’s flawless plan. For if we need his teachings as we journey through the years, we find the richest jewels of all are crystalized from tears.
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
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let them wander the yard or rotate your chicken tractor. You can also plant for chicken food: Kale & chard, sunflowers, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuces—heck almost anything we eat. If you have your animals fenced in you can plant on the perimeter and share the produce. Just throw left over seeds along the fence line and let it go. They can be destructive in gardens if left too long so wait until plants are mature. We have just added apple trees which highlights the beautiful symbiosis: Chickens eat bugs and fallen fruit that may invite disease, then they fertilize the surrounding soil. The trees will offer them shade and roost. Ecological benefits — If we consume more electricity, fossil fuels or water in order to produce our own, we will undo what our work has conserved. So don’t heat your coop or watering containers and design water barrels specifically for watering the animals. Choose breeds that fit your regional climate. We use several that overwinter well. Coops and tractors —We learned from our friends at Jerusalem Farm that a substantial coop can be built entirely out of recycled materials (they used pallets). It may be better to collect used materials first and make your design based on what you have available. Challenge yourself to build your coop with only scrap. (Ours cost $7, beat that!) Soil Improvement —Chickens are builtin compost makers. Patricia Foreman’s book City Chickens: Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers and Local Food Suppliers is an insightful and fun read, filled with practical knowledge. Don’t ask permission — Give creedence to your neighbors over government. Don’t assume they will be for or against a flock. Openness and generosity is often the way to acceptance. Arm yourself with knowledge and dispel myths they may have. Patricia Forman notes several myths folks use to resist urban chickens. For example, some are concerned with waste and odor. Truth is, a forty pound dog generates more solid waste then ten chickens. Unlike dog or cat poop, chicken waste can be combined with yard and leaf waste to create compost. About 40% of chicken manure is organic matter which is necessary for building fertile, healthy top soil. Since most commercial fertilizers are a petroleum product this will decrease our dependency on oil. If you already struggle to get along with your neighbors it may not be the best choice, but that doesn’t mean don’t try. Consider your strategy carefully. As to the politicos, why assume they know best? Municipalities are not always motivated by what is best for the community, especially when it comes to the poor and working class. They often bend their ear to the voices of real estate agents and corporate interest. How ironic it is when they restrict urban homesteading on the grounds of noise and waste, then destroy soybean fields to build a parts plant for nuclear weapons. Take the plunge and apologize later. If you are confronted, it may grant you the opportunity to argue for your personal freedoms. Decades ago Wendell Berry wrote, “For most of the history of this country our motto, implied or spoken, has been Think Big… But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and, accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem….A man who is willing to undertake the discipline and the difficulty of mending his own ways is worth more to the conservation movement than a hundred who are insisting merely that the government and the industries mend their ways.” We agree with Berry that in order to build the movement, in order to change the world, we must think one egg at a time. And when we contribute a dozen to our own table we will be adding another crack in the shell of Empire, another subversive act that begins to erode the power of agribusiness over our lives. More importantly, we will be living out the gospel call to simplicity and care of creation. So we must keep preaching until this poultry revolution will not be seen as “radical” but common place, everyday sort of stuff. We long for the day when, instead of neighbors crowding around our pen like it’s a petting zoo, clamoring “You have chickens!?” they will approach us and say, “how productive is that breed?” or “How have you kept out predators?” or “What do you do to keep your feed costs down?” The focus must turn from looking exotic to discussing best practices. It is imperative to move beyond trendy urban gardening to the hard work of raising our own food so that, over time, we gain practical wisdom and, as an act of neighborliness, are willingly share it. Contact us if you’d like support in starting your flock. We aren’t experts but will be glad to put our experience to work.
Tennis 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 Razors White Socks (esp. men’s) Foot Powder Toothbrushes Tampons & Pads Ibuprofen, Tylenol, & Allergy Laundry Soap (He-High efficiency) Shaving cream & Razors Lotion
Coffee Sugar Creamer Baking Soda Dish Soap Salt & Pepper Salad Dressing Hot Sauce Toilet Paper Milk Butter Black Beans Rice Energy Saving Light Bulbs Stamps Old candles Canning lids Bus Passes (one-rides)
Cherith Brook Catholic Worker
3308 East 12th Street Kansas City, MO 64127 (816) 241-8047 firstname.lastname@example.org http://cherithbrookcw.blogspot.com
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 (Singing every other week) M, T, Th M, W, F Th 8 :30--11:00 am 6–6:30 am 5–7 pm
April 12 Work day 9am-1pm April 14 Seder Meal April 17 Footwashing after Community Meal April 18 Stations of the Cross on the streets, 2pm at 11th & Oak st, downtown KC. April 22 Roundtable: “Notes on WhiteWorking Class America,” Tex Sample (not this is on a Tuesday) May 10 Work day 9am-1pm May 16 Roundtable: “Nonviolent Eucharist,” Rev. Ericka Marksbury, St. Andrews May 30-June 1 Trifecta Resista June 14 Work day 9am-1pm No Roundtable June or July July 7-18 CLOSED
Garden Work W 2-4 pm (please call ahead) Work Day Roundtable Discussions Monthly, 2nd Sat Monthly, 3rd Fri 9 am–1 pm 7 pm–9 pm