Cherith Brook

’s Mercy & Gospel Obe
icing God dienc
Pract e

C A T H O L I C W O R K E R Spring 2016
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

Back then, I didn’t know it was you.
by Jodi Garbison

them through the lens of Christ – to re-shape our understanding of Christ’s call for us to take
care of each other, Christ’s call to us as disciples, set apart as people of compassion in the face of
disgust, set apart as people of love in the face of hate, people of action in the face of apathy. It
may have been easier to offer folks a script or flow-chart of ways to respond to the what-ifs of
encountering someone who fits the homeless description. We have worked with people experi-
encing homelessness and hopelessness for more than 10 years. We probably could have come up
with a script or “how to” sheet. This however, would not help the situation. Doing so, would not
address the feelings listed above. It wouldn’t call people into account to deep-seeded, long-held
beliefs about people in need. It wouldn’t, necessarily, cause mindsets (heartsets) and actions to
change. It might even perpetuate the ‘one size fits all’ mentality or that solutions are easy when
accompanied with a formula.
Eric and I participated in the activities with the group. I found myself in the familiar co-learner
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman is a story about a blighted neighborhood - lots of run down role - a life-long journey to undo wrong thinking. It takes years to replace wrong thinking with
houses and empty lots. The neighborhood is of a melting pot of different cultures, languages and new, open-minded, life-giving expressions. One week was devoted to hearing Lonnie’s story.
people groups. In each chapter, the reader is introduced to a particular person’s lens, or perspec- All of you know Lonnie! His story is heart-wrenching, compelling. Oh how our hard hearts are
tive, on people around them and living in such an environment. Everyone keeps to themselves melted when we hear a story, especially someone we know! It has the tendency to shatter our
out of fear and suspicion. A shared community garden, started by a young girl, changed all that. preconceived ideas. This story – Lonnie’s story - challenged the feelings we had explored and
The garden got people out of their houses, engaging with one another. Near the end of the validated the previous weeks. Now all of a sudden, we have reason to respond in kindness and
book, an Iraqi man is tending his garden and a woman comes over to admire his plants. compassion. We have reason to act selflessly. This was part of the class – we set it up this way to
bring the complexity of someone’s story to light. While this was the original plan, I felt pained at
“She said she had admired my eggplants for weeks and how happy she was to finally meet me. She the end of the series. It seems a contradiction to who we are to be compelled to a compassionate
told me how to cook them and asked about my family. But something bothered me. Then I remembered. response if or when we hear ‘the rest of the story’. Lonnie’s life is a testimony to the precarity
A year before she’d claimed that she’d received the wrong change in my store. I was called out to the of life and of God’s goodness. Stories are wonderful and necessary. It’s a privilege to be invited
register. She’d gotten quite angry and called me – despite her own accent – a ‘dirty foreigner’. Now that into the intimate details of someone’s story that may have led them experiencing homelessness.
we were so friendly with each other I dared to remind her of this. Her eyes became huge. She apologized However, it’s a dangerous assumption. Can we really connect food, clothing, medical help, a
to me over and over again. She kept saying, “Back then, I didn’t know it was you...” smile, a hello, an encounter with a stranger by having them first validate the need for it? We as
Christians, have a responsibility to respond. The response cannot hinge on whether we believe the
Eric and I led a Sunday school class at Second Presbyterian in January. The 6-week class arose need, whether we feel it’s been earned, whether we are convinced we aren’t being scammed, or if
organically out of a desire for people attending Second to explore ways to respond to people we are certain how resources will be used. Our response is based on our connectedness to Christ
asking for help – often people experiencing homelessness. Rather than ‘teach’ a class, share not on someone verifying the complexity of their life journey – life’s hardships and devastations.
statistics on homelessness, or help create programmatic solutions to systemic problems, we dedi- We are good-news, generous people not fearful, skeptics.
cated most of the direction and time to inner work. Time of personal inventory. We explored We don’t always have the luxury or privilege to get to know someone. Even more, what does
feelings, attitudes and stereotypes associated with encountering someone who approaches us it say about Christians who seem entitled to hear another’s story. As people of privilege, chances
or someone we see from our car window at a stoplight. Using Matthew 25 as our starting point are, we don’t plan to share our story in return – for the relationship to be reciprocal. This isn’t fair
each week, the class was designed to draw awareness to responses that arise from these misin- at best and exploitive at worst. Usually someone’s life is filled with painful moments – moments
formed opportunities. This was difficult to do. It’s difficult to get honest about the real reasons that are even hard to share with a confidant or counselor let alone a stranger. In this assumed
we don’t respond well to another human being in need. As we explored different scenarios, some entitlement, we participate in the systems that create poverty and then ask those who are impov-
of the feelings that arose were feelings of fear, annoyance, judgement, guilt, apathy, entitlement, erished to account for their plight.
inconvenience and powerlessness.
The hope of our time together was to take these scenarios, these real, live people and see Continued on Page 10...
2 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Spring 2016

Reflections from Students
by Rockhurst University Catholic Social Teaching Class

Here at Cherith Brook, we are incredibly fortunate to have many people come to our home who are thirsty for
knowledge of the Catholic Worker Movement, and who are looking to come and experientially understand what
a radical Gospel community can look like. One such group that we had the pleasure of meeting was a group from
Rockhurst University who were in the midst of a study on Catholic Social Teaching, taught by Fr. Curran. After a
large group tour and conversation, many students ended up returning during the hours in which we are open for
showers. They were kind enough to share their thoughts and reflections on their various volunteer times with us.
Here are some portions of their writings:

“-There was no background check to be completed before volun-
teering at Cherith Brook. It became apparent that Cherith Brook
accepts everyone who wants to make a difference for our brothers
and sisters in Christ.
-We are caring for our human family because we are all united in
faith. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may
Hephzibah, a regular volunteer, reflects the joy that only cute
baby chickens can bring
-Cherith Brook protects the dignity of the worker and their rights.
The right to work, through a decent living wage is part of this
Catholic social teaeching. I saw hard workers lined up in front of
Cherith for a shower and a meal.
-As I heard his story, I began to imagine myself in his situation.
Homeless and hungry, John comes to Cherith Brook so that he
can be loved. I had the opportunity to love John for a few minutes
on Monday and we were both grateful. Even though I could not
experience what John was going through, I could reach out my
hand and tell him someone cared.
-I went to Cherith Brook to help people, but in the end they really
Some excellent volunteers who decided to donate the valuable
helped me”
resources of time and labor during a second Saturday work day.
These fine chefs prepared egg bake for a Monday breakfast!

Caleb and Tim: intimidating closet guardians. The closet is where
folks can come before a shower for a fresh change of clothes and
“-The Lazarus waiting to receive showers greeted us before we even entered toiletries
the building, telling us ‘good morning’, asking us how we were doing, and “-I kind of knew what to expect from your stories, but after
asking us if we were new volunteers. They all had smiles on their faces as if hearing what really goes on and how the house works, it was
they were happy to see us, which astonished me, because it was not a nice unbelievable.
day outside, I was actually pretty cold and here they are waiting to receive -Everyone in the house is on the same level. Everyone in the
the meal with just pure joy in their faces and body language. house was put on this Earth by God for a reason. Cherith Brook
-I wasn’t really washing dishes; I was really washing empty bowls and goes out of their way to make sure the people in need are treated
plates. The dishes that were coming back to us were already practically higher than things. The biggest part of what they do at Cherith
scraped clean. These clean dishes showed me the gratefulness of people Brook is to make sure they sit down and talk with everyone that
who do not take this meal for granted, as others might.” comes in their door. They value everyone’s time and voice so
that they make sure everyone has a chance to talk to someone at
Plumber’sputty: secondary only to duct tape in terms of Cherith Brook.
usefulness -A shower is a huge part of what makes a human feel human.”
Spring 2016 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker 3

“-Something that was different and grabbed my attention during this
experience was that before we did anything we all sat down and read the
bible and reflected on the passage. We were encouraged to take what we
had read and search for how it might appear throughout the rest of our
-Cherith Brook takes the time to ask everyone what they would like to
eat instead of having them eat and serve themselves; it was the complete
opposite of a soup kitchen. I found this unique because they were treat-
ing those in need more like real human beings who deserve the utmost
- (In reference to a conversation with a guest): He talked to me about
some difficult things the homeless face out in the city: not only do they
not have food, clothes, or showers but they also deal with a lot of medi-
cal issues because they are living outside. He told me about the frost bite
he received this Winter that led to him losing his toes. He also talked to
me about his passions and joys, one being football.
-Every year more people becomes homeless and yet we have not found a
solution. I think it is important that in order to fix this we need to begin
first with getting rid of the stereotypes we have of those in poverty and
who are homeless. Stereotypes often hold people back from acting,
it makes people think more about the consequences compared to the
people actually involved.”
Tammy and Clayton, enjoying coffee
Guess who might be more excited for dish duty: Vince or Sharon?
before a morning meal.
“-Going to Cherith Brook made me feel as if I had made a difference. Perhaps I wasn’t able to offer the people there a place to stay, but I was able to give them clothes and offer them warm coffee.
This made me think of Matthew 25: 35-36 which says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me
in. I needed clothes and you clothed me.” For the first time in a long time, I felt the kind of joy that only comes from doing the right thing. I wasn’t depressed or anxious, and I was happy to have
finally done something that would make a difference.”

Pictured Above: Mildred, the
hardest working hen we know.

A regular guest and volunteer, Tammy Parker,
poses with a new baby duck. You might even
say this picture is......aduckable
“-My favorite comment that was made was about how
Jesus does not always heal the people who need it the
most or the people who are most important, but he
Pictured Left: The never easy practice
heals the ones that are present at the time. There are
of trying to get everyone to look at
always going to be people who need help in the world
the camera at the same time.
and we may not be able to help them all, but we can
do our best to help the people who are right in front
of us.
-Everyone who walks through the door is treated like
a friend.”
4 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Spring 2016

House Notes: Spring 2016
By Eric Garbison

When people ask me, “What’s new at Cherith Brook?” I surprise myself how clumsily I stumble over a response.
If you’re a to-do list person like me there is the tendency to talk projects: “We just rebuilt our back deck.” “We had 40 folks at our work day and got lots done.” “Look at our new solar dryer.” Rattling off a
litany of jobs in process or completed sounds busy, but not very inspirational.
Some days I feel self-imposed pressure to give the sexy response: “Well we’ve been on the streets with Stand Up KC fighting for workers rights to a living wage!” Or, “We spent the night outside for
Festival of Shelters.” “We had a powerful roundtable with Dr. Tex Sample and a lively discussion about Christian Justice.”
Speaking from achy, tired muscles after a full day of chores I’m inclined to mumble, “We’ve been hanging up laundry, driving friends to appointments, watering plants, spreading mulch, setting mouse traps,
pulling weeds, picking up kids from school, thinning fruit trees, collecting eggs, changing the oil, repairing bee boxes, washing pots and pans, sorting through donations and filling up toiletry bins, mopping,
sweeping, fixing a leaky sink….These mundane activities don’t sound all that interesting but they occupy an basic part of any given day.
Then there is the temptation to quantify our work. Maybe throw out statistics about how may folks we’ve fed or showers we’ve offered. But we don’t keep statistics; we don’t have time and life is messier
than this.
On darker days, it seems that very little changes around here. We have more guests than ever.
Street friends continue to suffer from the menace of poverty, from being criminalized because of their
homelessness. We sit with folks who suffer the trauma of addiction, abuse, street violence, unattend-
ed mental or physical health; or all of the above. On those days it takes everything in me not to be
caustic, not to misdirect my anger. Especially at those who only want good news and success stories.
When I’m feeling pressed down by the presence of the false and evil Powers of this world I want to
scream, “We are not doing enough at Cherith Brook. Our witness to the Peace of Christ is not clear
enough, not loud enough, too bashful and cowardly!” I want to question if we and the church are
doing enough to resist the Military Industrial Complex that controls economics, elections, even local
policy. I want to weep and tear my clothes over the urgency of addressing racism, in ourselves as well
as our neighborhood and nation. (But, sadly, I don’t…)
And then there are the days I feel feeble and insignificant. We are a precarious little band. Our
work is so small. We are always on the verge of change that might mean closing our doors. We always
have just enough. Not a week goes by that I don’t wonder when God will be sending more help our
way? Or imagining who might be exploring a new call this year? It can be overwhelming if I think
about it too much.
All these responses have their place. We dare not bombard you with all of them at once. Whatever
we say when you inquire we hope that at that given moment we have offered a sincere picture of the
ministry that happens here.
The thing that is always new and that we can count on is the opportunity for our faith and yours to
grow so we can trust more deeply in God’s provision, love our neighbor with less reservation, shout-
down evil more courageously, nurture intimacy in friendship, follow more faithfully the radically plain What’s new at Cherith Brook? Our new baby chicks and a couple of baby ducks. Yes, they are very very cute.
way of Christ, and pray more fervently for God’s kingdom on Earth. Faith is, after all, “the reality of
what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” (Hebrews 11)

Cafe Makeover
We are so very fortunate here at Cherith Brook to be surrounded by people
with a myriad of talents who contribute to our space. Mike Kileen gave us a very
generous donation in the form of some paintings that depict South American and
Mexican farm workers. Here’s some information about Mike: we hope you will take
a moment to check out more of his work!

Mike Killeen is a native of St. Louis and has been living for the past two years in
Kansas City, Missouri. While he is first and foremost a painter, he also does plenty of
illustration, graphic design, and even woodworking. Killeen’s work seeks to further
illuminate the light, energy, and colors that are unique to each human person, as well as
different elements of the natural world. For him, this light, although manifested through
distinct hues and vibrancies, is entirely singular in nature—there is but one source to
it all. The artists seeks to reveal this universal connection by employing subject matter
which points both to the human condition and to the divine found within each one of us.
See more of Mike’s work at
Spring 2016 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker 5

Pictured left: Some hard woodwork during a workday.
We recently completed a large renovation in rebuilding
our back deck

Pictured Below: Our community has recently experienced some significant change in the
form of Lonnie moving out. Lonnie is still a dedicated volunteer to Cherith Brook, coming
twice a week and spending time with our guests and us. We had a lovely sending away get
together; the highlight of which being the “burning of his final agenda”

Pictued left:
Spring has most certainly Sprung
here at Cherith Brook! We are so
excited to see the beginning of new
flowers and veggies.

Pictured left:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
6 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Spring 2016

On Followership
by Caleb Madison

If you’ve been privy to Social Justice movements in the Catholic friend, and follower. outbursts of frustration as wildly out-of-line and worthy of
Worker over the past few years, you’ll have seen an increase in A fairly obvious response that often comes upon hearing the reprimand while being able to “step away and take a deep
consciousness towards race and racial prejudice that has caused idea of followership is what to do if you disagree with leadership. breath” as praiseworthy and of note for appropriate beahvior.
an expoentntial growth in conversation towards race. We owe When these questions come into mind, an important question And this isn’t a bad thing at all. We merely have a certain
nearly all of this to the power of black community leaders who to first ask oneself is whether or not your disagreement may way of functioning with one another that has specific social
have sought to lift the consciousness of white folks who have come from a personalized attitude about how you yourself would connotations that work for our part of society. The issue
had little to no recognition of how privilege is experienced by an handle the situation, with a secondary caveat that questions comes in as we begin to relate this to the second question of
oppressed person, and how we so often continue to manifest our whether or not your disagreement is related to how your what we ask when we question leadership: is my lack of re-
privilege in ways that hurt ourselves and our communities. A key particular culture or race might process a problem. Let us apply sponsiveness to leadership related to how my culture handles
portion of this is to recognize that we have been invited into this the above questions to a piece that we might call into question problems? For white folks, we consistently hit this roadblock
conversation, we were and are not the instigators of this racial to see how this plays out further. when interpreting the actions of other communities. We
conversation and we were and are not the leaders of a movement A common piece of the Black Lives Matter movement that often look at the direct action style interruption and think it
that should be centered around the voices of oppressed communi- I often hear criticized by people of my color is the idea of too brash or out of line or whatever. As soon as I begin to call
ties of people of color. This puts us in a precarious position that we shutdown or interruption. “What’s the point of shutting down a into question whether this is a difference in cultural handling
often aren’t used to thinking through as white people; the position road, you’re just interrupting people from work,” we say. Or “Do my bias becomes apparent. As a white community, with the
of a designated follower. I use the term designated very specifically you really think that shutting down this thing changes a system? ideas of control and emotional order that we thirst for, our
here to ensure that the understanding is as follows: we have been You should be moving through legislative action!”. lens of appropriate handling of a situation is immediately
appointed to the position of specifically follower by leaders in the The first question we then ask ourselves is whether or not our tinged with our own perceptions and privileges.
black community. disagreement comes from a personal attitude. If we are being This line of questioning involving personal quandary and
In a recent roundtable conversation we had at Cherith Brook, critical and intentional about our analysis of the above points further problems related to culture can really begin to help us
we were fortunate enough to have the St. Louis Catholic Worker in response to direct action, a few things are immediately unpack some bigger issues. While not an entirely foolproof
come and speak to us about their experience organizing in the illuminated. A central point that you might notice in the first method, it begins to put us in the right frame of mind for the
wake of Ferguson. One of the workers there was explaining a bit response on work interruption is a rather personal lens: “I consideration of other people’s thoughts, opinions, perspec-
about white roles after the shooting in Ferguson and some of the would hate it if I were late to work”. Compare this notion to tives, and experiences; and in doing so we come to further
confusion around what role a white person should take in the the total message of Black Lives Matter and it starts to feel less understand ourselves and our own cognition.
community. People were calling in and asking where marches were, important that I make it to work compared to the idea that all of And so this is our response to these feelings and new forms
where the lines were drawn, where the cops were gathered, where these stalled people will have a moment brought up in their day of processing: we absolutely must trust good black leader-
the masses were moving. The response from the worker centered where they might think about race. Not only these immediate ship as we enter into the role of follower. It is an absolutely
around a much more needed utility in the immediate: cleaning a lot people will be effected, but all of the media-highlighting and crucial step in the beginning portion of attempting to shed
of toilets. You see, the worker was a bit of a safe haven for people commentary that will surely emerge further illuminates a racial privilege that we realize our voices should not be the loudest
who had taken to the streets and been tear gassed, maced, at- conversation. My personal notion in being upset at lateness in the room and that we need to follow the best that we can.
tacked, or were simply exhausted. You can imagine the state of the pales in comparison to the idea of so many conversations In every action as a follower, we make a conscious decision to
house upon such in-and-out commotion of showers, bathrooms, centering on race. This is why we should be careful to notice our move under a leader, and when that leader is a person trying
medical needs, meals, and bedding. The response from the general personal notions upon critique of black-led movements. to be liberated we in essence ally ourselves to justice; and the
white populous truly speaks to our lack of understanding of the Not only do we need to notice for ourselves these logical hope in the breaking of chains that we can find some equality
nuance of our role: “we don’t need to clean toilets we need to be out problems of personal attitude, but our own privilege often blinds in this white dominant society. In the words of Anne Braden,
there”! us from a deeper perception of what this looks like to somebody a historic follower, “What you win in the immediate battles is
There is a momentum forward to be used here that I hope we can who has experienced more direct oppression. I can’t speak for little compared to the effort you put into it but if you see that
recognize. We indeed need to be “out there” but “out there” might how black communities tend towards expression as a white as a part of this total movement to build a new world, you
look deeply different than you expect. “Out there” might mean person without a lot of research and data, so I’d prefer to speak know what could be. You do have a choice. You don’t have to
cleaning toilets. “Out there” might mean doing laundry. “Out towards the culture I know. be a part of the world of the lynchers. You can join the other
there” might mean cooking a meal. “Out there” might mean mak- We, as white folks, tend to want to express ourselves in a very America. There is another America!”
ing phone calls for 3 hours to potential allies. “Out there” might controlled manner in any intellectual circle. Look at how we
look like talking to your crazy racist uncle. We have an obsession observe art in white communities: the opera, ballet, gallery, or Caleb Madison is a covenanting member of Cherith Brook Catholic
with limelight that is as integrated into our white skin color as what have you. We are expected to sit quietly and contemplate Worker House.
much as it is to our culture, and an authentic way to subjugate that our emotional reactions; we are invited to feel so long as feeling
desire is in the act of service to others on the basis of need as ally, is quiet and unobtrusive. In our life-events, we tend to view
Spring 2016 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker 7

Back Then con.
Continued from page 1... Pictured left: Diana and Henri
Garbison striking a pose in style!
So, this class has given me much to think about. If I were to do it again, I would structure the class the
same and definitely invite Lonnie to share his story – this was the highlight of the series. I am convinced
that our take-away is to not only challenge our feelings, attitudes and stereotypes about people but look at
everybody through the lens of Christ. How are we, the church, representing Christ? How are we leading the
way in compassion without strings? How are we modeling for the rest of the world that walls of division
have been defeated – by Christ? How do we want to be treated when we are in need? So, part of me wants
to shake the church’s shoulders and say, “Step up Church!” and part of me wants to say, “Thank you Church!”
for being co-learners. We have much to learn. Let’s not look back at how we treated someone with
skepticism or contempt only to say… “Back then, I didn’t know it was you…”

Jodi Garbison is a covenanting member of Cherith Brook.
References: Seedfolks by Paul Flesichman

A poem by NaNa
for Volunteer Appreciation
Thank you Cherith Brook for everything

We accept or I without any thanks or praise

This place is a blessing in so many ways

We like to thank you at this time for giving us a lot and more than our share

And again for your awesome care

The unexpected courtesy, thoughtfulness, and kindly deeds

A hug that sometime comes our way, even a hand reached out to help us in the time of
sudden need
To all who keep this boat afloat, we love you guys

Cherith Brook

Appreciate you in all you do and keeping us aware that life, it deserves a second look

NaNa is a dedicated volunteer at Cherith Brook, often giving two or three days a week of help
during our open hours.
8 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Spring 2016

Intern Reflection
By Austin Dey

When I moved to Cherith Brook I was interested to
get to know about the city. Looking back this was kind
of a big goal. The first morning I showed up for break-
fast at the Brook I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t
know anyone until one of the other diners sat down at
my table and he let me know “there’s good people here”.
That was a welcome to be there at breakfast, but in a way
it was also like a welcome from the heart of Kansas City.
Reflecting back on my internship at Cherith Brook I
don’t know how many of the big questions I answered. I
reflect more on the small things… Entering the world
of the chickens, the sting of the okra bush on my sweaty
skin in late August. Each flake of paint and caulk I
scrape off a window. Being at prayers and focusing on
the flame of the candle. The smell of vinegar. Standing
outside the café, taking a sip of that delicious raven
coffee, squinting down 12th street into the sunrise and
someone is sharing a secret of life. If I listen closely they
are only talking about the weather.
That’s generally true of life; with all the big questions
and unknowns we only need to know a few basic things
like there’s good people here, and the food’s good too.
Whether you are trying to get your heart and mind
around God of the universe, struggling to balance the other because ‘they’ are different than ‘us’. And we forget that

scales of justice, or even just working to stay alive, to harm the other is to harm ourselves. Whenever I am scared

having some breakfast can really help you feel like a that a Donald Trump supporter might punch me in the face, I

person again. For example this election season I saw a have to remember it’s because they are scared. I am scared of

meme on Facebook for one candidate that read; “Get on them. Unfortunately this advice to have breakfast together is a

board, or get run over”. This is the kind of meme that real possibility for me to follow because some of ‘those’ racist,

makes me need to be at the breakfast table. Most of selfish, violent people are my friends and family. They are a mix

the evil in our world is enacted because we ‘other-ize’ of insecurity and good intentions - just like me.

our fellow creatures. We make it possible to harm each This tradition about dining with enemies goes back a long
way - even to the Hebrew Psalmist who lyricized: “You prepare
before me a table in the presence of mine enemies.” Especially
as I envision my work to continue around the communion
table in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) I understand
the breakfast table (or any kind of table) as a level, open space
which is able to transcend our differences and even celebrate
our differences. This could be a Communion table with its sym-
bolic pellet of bread and thimble of wine, or a banquet feast. It
could be the table of the living wage, health-care, housing, or
being allowed participation in our democratic process. With all
my questions about people and God I’m learning “we know God Austin Dey is a 2nd year Master of Divinity student at St. Paul School
through the breaking of bread and we know each other through of Theology. When he is not having breakfast he enjoys playing guitar,
the breaking of bread”. Right in the middle of our war-machine reading, chilling with friends, and cruising the bike-ways of Kansas City.
economy and consumer brainwash we are making peace just Through his education Austin plans to continue working to bring friends
by having a meal together. And as I continue on my journey as family and strangers together around the table in partnership with the
a student of theology, I hope I will always continue to find my Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Austin is currently serving as As-
friends at the breakfast table. sistant Worship Coordinator at Blue Ridge Blvd. Church in Independence
Spring 2016 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker 9

Common Dreams, Collective Solutions, and the Borders
between Us: Reflections on the 2015 School of the Americas
Watch Vigil
By Kimberly Hunter
*Founded in 1990, the SOA Watch has become a large, diverse, nonviolent, grassroots movement that works to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, to close the School of the
Americas, and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the SOA represents. The Pentagon has responded to the growing movement and Congress’ near closure of the SOA with a PR campaign to give the SOA
a new image. In an attempt to disassociate the school with its horrific past, the SOA was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in January of 2001. Today the SOA
Watch movement continues its nonviolent resistance by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance. For more information, visit”

Demilitarization movements like the SOA Watch create ways for people on both sides of the border to form relationships, discover common dreams, ask the right questions, and break the silences that di-
vide and oppress us. Today militarization is expanding not only through the U.S. wars in the Middle East but also through the “War on Drugs,” mass civilian shootings, for-profit immigrant detention centers
local police weaponry, and the heavily armed U.S.-Mexico border. In response, the SOA Watch is addressing how these newer forms of state-sanctioned violence interconnect with the Cold-War-era violence
perpetuated by graduates of U.S.-based foreign military training schools like the SOA.
The “War on Drugs,” high-profile police shootings, and gun sales debates may be the most visible signs of militarization within the United States. The Black Lives Matter and other civil rights move-
ments are raising awareness about the over-militarization of U.S. police and the high costs associated with imprisoning disproportionate percentages of black and brown men—most for drug-related charges.
But these violent realities at home have even more gruesome (though less visible to U.S. eyes) counterparts abroad. In the twentieth century’s second half, corporately-funded U.S. officials used the guise of
“fighting Communism” to funnel money, weapons, and training (via the SOA and other schools) to military and government officials across Latin America (many later were convicted of human rights viola-
tions) in exchange for “free market” access to land, water, and raw materials profitable to the mining and food sales industries.
In the twenty-first century, the same exploitative process is still underway, this time under the guise of
the “War on Drugs.” While the media, politicians, and public debate connections between mass shootings
and gun legislation, 80% of gun sales in the U.S. are exported to Mexico and delivered to drug cartels.
While news reports have focused on Middle East strategies, homicides in Mexico alone have surpassed
the combined civilian death tolls of Iraq and Afghanistan. Notoriously violent and increasingly powerful
gangs throughout the Americas are using U.S. weapons to not only rob and negotiate land and resources
from multi-national mining and agricultural corporations but also terrorize any civilians, journalists, and
politicians who dare oppose them. This terror combined with the effects of NAFTA and visa policies is
causing unprecedented numbers of undocumented refugees to seek asylum in the U.S., most recently from
Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. But our Mexican neighbors find themselves in a particularly volatile
situation; while the United States pays Mexican police and politicians to fight the “War on Drugs,” powerful
drug cartels bribe many of these same officials to look the other way or even to work for them. Take, for
example, the case of Noe Ramirez, who worked as former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s anti-drug
chief. In 2008, the U.S. paid Mexico $400 million to fight drug cartels; that same year, courts charged
Ramirez with accepting bribes of $450,000 each month from drug cartels.
Pictured above: a solemn march to the gates of Fort Benning, which houses the SOA (now

Though the U.S.-funded “War on Drugs” has failed to reduce drug trafficking, it
continues at enormous human, economic, and environmental costs to ordinary people
across the Americas. Here in the United States, taxpayers annually pay over $51 billion
to private corporations not only to recruit, train and weaponize border and foreign
police, but also to build, fill, and staff prisons and immigrant detention centers here
at home. These prisons are filled mostly with U.S. citizens convicted of using, selling,
or transporting drugs. The detention centers, meanwhile, are filled mostly with
immigrants who left their homes as refugees fleeing poverty, loss of land, drug-related
violence, and/or environmental destruction caused by climate change, mining, and
multinational agricultural corporations. Across the border, increasing numbers of
people pay with their lives simply for choosing neither to migrate nor to cooperate
with drug cartels. Continued on p. 11....

A die-in at the gate of Fort Benning
10 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Spring 2016

Mission Statement
by Eric Garbison
Nonviolence—to live by Jesus’ model of a non-
of the Catholic Worker Movement that we’ve consistently stumbled over. It feels un-
violent way of life and his Sermon on the Mount love of God. It would put us on the path to incarnate
comfortable to say for various reasons. In a world that has embraced the original sin
manifesto (Matthew 5-7) the Church’s “preferential option for the poor.” And
of capitalism, voluntary poverty does not compute. In a culture of radical autonomy,
when we find ourselves guilty of moving closer to
voluntary poverty sounds like a handout rather than a vocation. I often get an uneasy
Hospitality—to welcome everyone in a manner that lives of comfort, we must confess our complicity and
feeling in my gut when I am trying to explain it to Protestant friends. Do they think
mirrors the upside down nature of God’s reign (Luke renew our commitment.
we’re being naïve, egotistical or extremists? So, I rarely mention it. Not infrequently
7:36-50, 14:7-24, etc.); to daily welcome everyone as The language we’ve adopted to get at this is “Down-
we buy into these attitudes ourselves, as we give into the temptation to lean into our
Christ (Matthew 25). ward Mobility.” We learned this language from Henri
own self-sufficiency.
Nouwen who, in The Selfless Way of Christ wrote,
Community—to live together and share a life of “The disciple is the one who follows Jesus on his
table fellowship, economic resources, labor, study, downward path and thus enters with him into new
prayers and worship and to trust that by covenanting life. The gospel radically subverts the presuppositions
with each other, we can do more together than we can of our upwardly mobile society. It is a jarring and
do on our own (Acts 2:38,42-47, 4:32-35) unsettling challenge.”
That it is a spiritual journey, requiring faith and
Downward Mobility—to live simply, practice alter- humility is essential for all to recognize. Again
native economics and voluntary labor among people Nouwen writes, “The downward way is God’s way, not
on the margins and excluded from life’s resources. ours. God is revealed as God to us in the downward
Downward mobility comes at personal surrender and pull, because only the One who is God can be emptied
connects us to an economy of grace. (Luke 9:57-62; of divine privileges and become as we are. The great
Mark 8:34-38; Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34, 7:13-14). mystery upon which our faith rests is that the One
who is in no way like us, who cannot be compared
Revaluing Land and Labor—to rediscover our with us, nor enter into competition with us, has come
original connection with the goodness of God’s among us and taken our mortal flesh.”
handiwork, the proper meaning of labor and self- Wrestling with this part of our mission reminds
sufficiency, our intimate connection with nature, But, as a community, we do adhere to a distinctive way with the stuff, time and us that statements like this serve several purposes.
the need to steward native resources and discern money of our lives. And we all affirm it is part of our vocation and witness. We make They remind us of the particularity of our vocation.
appropriate technology—all to celebrate the sublime every effort to practice what Jodi has called an “uncommon purse,” a strange and Indeed we are convicted to live out alternatives to
mystery of God’s creation (Genesis 2:4-9, 15-16, “Aims counter economics when compared to the prevailing patterns of the dominant church the kingdoms of this world and a find imaginative
and Means.”) and world. We desire to live in contrast to the world of accumulation and consumption; ways to refuse to participate in unjust systems. And
and, by God’s grace, and through much trial and error we want our desire to shape our yet, vocations are not personal judgments on other
Catholic Worker—We are part of the Catholic actions and vice versa. individuals but a divine calling to which we can but
Worker movement co-founded by Dorothy Day and We also believe this commitment is essential part of walking with those suffering in only respond…or not. And in responding we might
Peter Maurin. (See the Catholic Worker “Aims and poverty. In Loves and Fishes, Dorothy Day wrote, “The act and spirit of giving are the inspire others to imagine themselves differently.
Means”) best counter to the evil forces in the world today, and giving liberates the individual Nor are they are a claim to have arrived. They dare
not only spiritually but materially…The only way to live in any security is to live lives so us to be tomorrow more than we are today. This

close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have that far to drop, you do not have is discipleship after all. And we must embrace all
In the early years we were content to say that a com-
that much to lose.” aspects of the disciple’s pilgrimage that lay before us,
mitment to Christian nonviolence, community and
But when it comes to this “solidarity” what can we honestly say about ourselves? the pitfalls, narrow pathways and high peaks, as we
hospitality were the trajectory of our life. As we’ve
Our faith has called us to live out an alternative to the consumptive patterns of society, journey to the City of God.
shared this with visitors and groups over the years it’s
and yet, our experience is still far removed from our guests. If we can claim solidar- We hope this new statement faithfully represents
come to feel incomplete. It no longer accounts for the
ity with them its only in being immersed in the complexities of their life stories and the current flavor of our life and calling here. Please
growth we’ve experienced. Nor does it testify to the
sufferings; watching in their pained faces the trauma of the street life as it plays out; read it. And as you do we invite your responses, ques-
new, unexpected directions God’s Spirit has moved
and getting a front row seat to the oppressive Powers that enslave them. While we are tions, yes, challenges too.
us. Because we’ve changed and have been changed,
we’ve rewritten the vision expressed in our mission so far from homelessness, we are pushed to move closer to the precarity of those on the References: The Selfless way of Christ by Henri Nouwen
margins with hopes that our hearts will grow in the capacity to love. and Loaves and Fishes by Dorothy Day
statement. As a way of introducing it to you I’d like to
highlight one of its new expressions. With similar sentiment Day writes, “…by casting our lot freely with those whose

Voluntary poverty is one of the “Aims and Means” impoverishment is not a choice, we would ask for the grace to abandon ourselves to the
Spring 2016 Cherith Brook Catholic Worker 11

SoA Reflection We Can’t Do This
Without You!
Continued from Page 9
Though the U.S.-funded “War on Drugs” has failed to reduce drug
If you’ve been looking for a way to fit into our work here at Cherith
Brook, we’d love to help you explore that. Some of the areas we are Tennis Shoes (esp. men’s 9-13)
trafficking, it continues at enormous human, economic, and environ-
looking for help include: Jeans & Belts (30-34, 4-6)
mental costs to ordinary people across the Americas. Here in the United
Boxers & Panties (S & M, 4-7)
States, taxpayers annually pay over $51 billion to private corporations
-Groups to make a meal for our Thursday night dinner. We have a
Shampoo & Conditioner
not only to recruit, train and weaponize border and foreign police, but
number of churches, organizations and families that commit to doing
also to build, fill, and staff prisons and immigrant detention centers here Body Wash/Shower Gel
this on a semi-regular or one-time basis but we’ve had more holes
at home. These prisons are filled mostly with U.S. citizens convicted of
than usual in our schedule lately. Many groups prepare and deliver
Spray Deodorant/Stick Deorderant
using, selling, or transporting drugs. The detention centers, meanwhile, Razors & Toothbrushes
the meal in advance so if you have a time conflict on Thursdays, it
are filled mostly with immigrants who left their homes as refugees
shouldn’t be an issue. White Socks (esp. men’s)
fleeing poverty, loss of land, drug-related violence, and/or environmental
Foot Powder
destruction caused by climate change, mining, and multinational agricul-
-Individuals to help during our hospitality time on Monday morn-
tural corporations. Across the border, increasing numbers of people pay Tampons & Pads
ings. We ask volunteers arrive at 8am and plan to stay until 11:30am.
with their lives simply for choosing neither to migrate nor to cooperate Ibuprofen, Tylenol, & Allergy
We’d really appreciate someone who would be able to commit to this
with drug cartels. Laundry Soap (High Efficiency)
on a regular basis but one-time volunteers are welcome as well.
Movement like the SOA Watch exemplify Jesus’ call to begin building Cold medicine/Cough drops
the just and peaceful Kingdom of God not only through faith in what is
-Individuals interested in doing periodic food donation pick-ups. Band-Aids
yet to come but also through actions right now, here on Earth. Like the
There isn’t a set time for this but, if you’re interested, let us know
Antibiotic Cream
Roman empire, the U.S. empire also encourages fear of others, hoarding
and so we can call to see if you’re available when we have a hole in our
of possessions, and notions of entitlement—which lead to silence, Reading Glasses
separation, and suffering. But Jesus’ message encourages humility, Summer Clothing
hospitality, and faith in “enough” for today—which lead to conversation, Sleeping Bags
-An individual who would be interested in doing laundry consistently
relationship, and collective liberation.
on Tuesday afternoons.
In church last week, the Mennonite bulletin admonished me with
words from Rabbi Rami Shapiro: “Do not be daunted by the enormity
of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now.
-Individuals who would like to help with work projects on Wednesday
afternoons and Fridays. We periodically have projects during these House
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to
times for which we could use an extra set of hands. If you’re free
abandon it.” Not only are we “not obligated” to complete the work—but
during one of those times, call/email us and we’ll schedule something
as individuals we cannot complete it. Only the collective Body of Christ
can do that. But we are called to do our part, right here, right now, in Sugar
right relationship—with ourselves, with one another, with all creation, Creamer
-A self-directed handyman/woman who could do small maintenance
and with the creator. Baking Soda
projects around our space.
Kimberly attends Rainbow Mennonite Church and is currently apprenticing Dish Soap
on a CSA farm outside Kearney, MO. She attended the SOA Watch Vigil this
If any of these options sound interesting to you, or you have more Salt & Pepper
past October with Caleb and Hephzibah of Cherith Brook, thanks to grants
questions about how to get involved, don’t hesitate to send us an
Hot Sauce
form Heartland Presbytery Peacemaking Committee and Presbyterian Peace
e-mail at
Fellowship. She hopes the more U.S. Christians connect with and learn from Toilet Paper
our neighbors across the border, the more we’ll speak, act, and live in ways that Tissues
nurture everyone’s well-being. Milk
A regular volunteer, Rice
Nana, shows the Energy Saving Light Bulbs
wonders of
technology to our
friend Trevor.
Canning lids
Bus Passes (31 day & One-Rides)
Want to get involved? Check out for information on Post Cards (Postage Paid)
the October 7th-10th vigil at the US/Mexico Border Large Rolling Pin
The world is saddened this month to hear of the passing of Fr. Daniel Berrigan.
Fr. Berrigan was a relentless advocate for peace, justice, and equality. A true
example of what it looks like to live fiathfully, and to give of your all for gospel
peace. He will be sorely missed in the Catholic Worker movement, but also the
world over.

One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems

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

Who Are We?
Nonviolence—to live by Jesus’ model of a nonviolent way of life and his Sermon
on the Mount manifesto (Matthew 5-7)
Our Upcoming
Hospitality—to welcome everyone in a manner that mirrors the upside down Schedule Events
nature of God’s reign (Luke 7:36-50, 14:7-24, etc.); to daily welcome everyone as
Christ (Matthew 25). Showers M, T, Th 8 :00--11:15 am May 16th, SURJ Kansas City launch - 7 PM @
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
Community—to live together and share a life of table fellowship, economic Prayers M, F 6–6:30 am
resources, labor, study, prayers and worship and to trust that by covenanting W 7:30-8am May 20th, Roundtable Discussion - 7 PM - 8:30
with each other, we can do more together than we can do on our own (Acts Th 12-12:15 pm
2:38,42-47, 4:32-35) June 11th. Second Saturday Work Day - 9
Community Meal Th 5–7 pm
AM - 1 PM
Downward Mobility—to live simply, practice alternative economics and
voluntary labor among people on the margins and excluded from life’s resources. Closed Dates for July: July 11th - July 22nd
Work Day and lunch Monthly, 2nd Sat 9 am–1 pm
Downward mobility comes at personal surrender and connects us to an economy
of grace. (Luke 9:57-62; Mark 8:34-38; Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34, 7:13-14).
Roundtable Discussions Monthly, 3rd Fri 7 pm–9 pm
(No roundtable in June or July)
Revaluing Land and Labor—to rediscover our original connection with the
goodness of God’s handiwork, the proper meaning of labor and self-sufficiency,
our intimate connection with nature, the need to steward native resources and Centering Prayer First Wednesday of 7 pm-8 pm
discern appropriate technology—all to celebrate the sublime mystery of God’s each month
creation (Genesis 2:4-9, 15-16, “Aims and Means.”)

Catholic Worker—We are part of the Catholic Worker movement co-founded by
Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. (See the Catholic Worker “Aims and Means”)