Thursday, October 16, 2014

Visiting communities and the election in DC

On Tuesday, I returned from a 16-day journey to the Midwest to visit two Catholic Worker communities. The first was in Kansas City and the second one was in Davenport, IA, and I must say they are very different. I loved KC and I would probably want to live there if it was on the East Coast. They provide breakfast, showers, laundry services, and free second-hand clothes to homeless folks three times a week. In addition, they have a small urban farm, which includes more than two dozen egg-laying hens, honey bees, fruit trees, okra, bell pepper, and much more! I also think the four regular CW members: Jodi, Eric, Allison, and Lonnie are remarkable people. Davenport on the other hand is small, basically two houses of hospitality for long-term guests run by one amazing CW member, Michael. I will be upfront in saying that I developed quite a crush on Michael, but I think I am growing past that now. For a number of reasons, I don't think Davenport would be a great fit for me over the long-run. I also witnessed a lot of good resources for the homeless in the Quad Cities area, so I think that there are many urban areas with severe unmet needs, and I would be more drawn to those places. Also, there's a lot to be said for living as part of a larger group of f-t Catholic Workers. And, as for my early comment about the East Coast, I think with parents aging and becoming more vulnerable, I do feel called to be within a less than 10-hour drive of them. So with that said, the next two CW communities I will be visiting next month will be on the East Coast, and while not really close to D.C. -- significantly closer than Iowa or Missouri.

It is getting down to election time in D.C., and I have had the great pleasure of volunteering for Eugene Puryear's campaign for City Council. His public positions resonate strongly with my own views powered by my belief system. And the good news is he has a fairly good chance of winning! Early voting begins Monday. And I will be working closely with the camping during these last two weeks! This evening, I did a bit of outreach for Eugene at the mayoral debate at Anacostia High.
Anyhow, check out Eugene's Website. If you are progressive like me, I am sure you will love his candidacy.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Changing my life

I surprised myself to realize just how long it has been since I last wote a blog entry. A lot has changed in my life, but I think even greater change is just around the corner. As I type this long-awaited blog entry at a little after 2 a.m. on September 27, I realize my view of the world, and my life in  particular, continues to evolve. I hope my activism becomes much more proactive, rather than reactive. I also want to embrace my share of responsibility for creating more peace and justice in the world. I grow weary of attending protests and vigils where we seem to be just appealing to "the powers that be" rather than seizing the initiative ourselves.

Furthermore, my spirituality which I often silenced or suppressed, has now truly begun to blossom. I now wish to grow and nourish my relationship with God. To me my activism was never separate from my spirituality. My belief in pursuing justice, doing good, and resisting violence in the world has always been very important to me. The causes I have worked on may be political, but my energy and commitment has always stemmed from my core beliefs. These actions and campaigns have been more than just merely political for me. And I am interested in living in community with others similarly committed.

In 48 hours from now I will be more than half way through a Greyhound bus ride to Kansas City. That will be my first stop on a tour of Catholic Worker communities I will consider joining. I don't believe I have been this excited about anything in my life since my move to Seattle when I was 27. I am listening to a voice inside me, and I feel I am heeding a call. Last winter and into the spring I found intense happiness interacting with some of my homeless neighbors. I have shared food and conversation with them. I feel I have gotten to know two of them. I hope to do this kind of work full-time and build community around it. This is to a large degree what the Catholic Worker movement is all about.

In 2004, when I became intensely involved in the anti-war movement, I was always deeply impressed with the Catholic Workers. Their commitment to nonviolence and building a more just world for those most oppressed and ignored in our midst quickly resonated with me. However, I was supposed to try and succeed at a typical career, after all isn't that what I went to school for? Is it not what my parents expect? But you see, I feel disconnected from God when I only focus on my "career," and I feel it puts greater distance between myself and my brothers and sisters I observe just struggling to simply survive. I feel called to act in a way that may help build just a little bit of justice in the world, or maybe it will only result in lessening the suffering of just a couple brothers and sisters. Either way, I want to be present for those struggling with loneliness, hunger, addiction, homelessness. I want to serve, in some small capacity, the stranger who comes to the door seeking refuge.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Perhaps this intention to serve is just a little bit selfish. I don't want an empty life, I wish for it to have more value than just holding a decent job, being a "good citizen," doing what is "expected" of me and for me. Living God's love is doing/being/living for others. Thank you for reading, and God bless.