Captain Jason

The latest news on the recover of Jason after his injury in Iraq by an IED.


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Cpt. Jason Scott
WRAMC Building 20
Mologne House Hotel #316
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington DC 20307

Phone: 202 577 0092

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend: Katy at Jonah House

First I must send a special "Hello" to Fr. Bob Bossie and Sr. Kathleen DeSaultes OP and all the folks at 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago from their friends Ardith and Carol of Jonah House (and everyone at Jonah House) for Carol made me promise I would say "Hello." :-)

As I had written on Thursday, I headed to W. Baltimore by Metro and MARC train to Jonah House (Jonahhouse.org) arriving shortly before dinner on Thursday. Jonah House is owned by the Diocese of Baltimore and the five members who live there at present earn their wages by clearing and caretaking of a once-parish cemetery. When the white flight from the neighborhood happened, the cemetery was abandoned (no perpetual care moneys had been collected) and uncared for for a number of years until the vegetation literally covers everything and brush and trees wiped out the cemetery. Over the years locals used it for a dumping ground. Tombstones were toppled and lost. Records of the families and plots have been lost and only about 30% of the gravesights can be attributed to families. The cemetery covers over 20 acres and I would guess that over the 10 years that Jonah House has cared for the cemetery about a third has been reclaimed. The perpetual care for the cemetery is now provided for through a foundation of the families with members buried there and which helps oversee the stewardship of Jonah House for the property. Members living in the house now are Gary, Susan, Ardith, Carol and Liz.

Another visitor completing her week long visit was Sue from Co. We all ate dinner together. We ate strawberries from the JH patch and fresh lettuce each meal from the garden. We ate new potatoes from volunteer plants. Susan took me outside to help with the "treats" for the two Nubian goats named Paul and Silas and two black llamas named Micah and Naomi who "work to keep the cemetery grass mown-by eating it." Feral cats also live in the cemetery and come close to the home on the property which the community built and turned over to the Diocese. Gary took me on a walk through the cemetery including the paths they have cut through the overgrown areas so those folks who come might try to find their family tombstones or gravesites.

The house is surrounded by beautiful flower beds and vegetable gardens which Gary oversees.
On Friday, Gary and I spent the day in the vegetable garden. We weeded and howed and dug and planted, all spiritual nurturance for this gardener who has not had her own vegetable garden in ten years. Gary has built a green house structure where during the summer he is growing pole beans and has a patch of rhubarb. We tilled and planted three rows of corn "in the open greenhouse." We tilled another patch and planted egg plants. Gary mulched everything with straw. We got rained out so stopped for lunch then the sun obligingly came out from behind the clouds and we returned for our afternoon in the gardens. About 4 PM Gary said, "Enough" and put away the tools.

I wandered to the front of the house and found Liz weeding and planting leftover basil and tomato plants. I wasn't ready to end my work day so I spent time with Liz working in this garden. One of the cats, being a cat, came to lounge in the weeded area and for a reason only known to cats, decided to "unplant" a plant with his paw! He just layed down, hooked it and out she came! Thank goodness he humored us by only taking out one! I am sure the cat did it to let us mere humans know who is really in charge of the garden! Jonah House has a beautiful kitchen dining area with a wall of windows overlooking the cemetery. I understand they had birdfeeders but the flock of guinea hens would cause such a racket outside the windows eating the seed that had fallen that conversation in the house could not be heard. So now a thistle sock hangs from a clothes line and American goldfinches and finches abound eating the seed. They were so beautiful and reminded me of the years in Blacksburg when I fed the finches and waited their spring and fall arrival in our backyard. It was so good to see again the "living butter yellow" dancing through the sky.

Friday evening is movie night provided by Netflix and the community gathered to watch "Paper clip" a story of a middle school in Tennessee whose students collected 6 million paperclips, one for each person killed in the Holocaust. A student had asked, "What does 6 million look like?" It is a beautiful movie telling the story of learning tolerance not only by the students over about 4 years of the project but also for the adult town members (1600) themselves. The memorial eventually included 11 million out of a total 29 million clips collected. The extra 5 million represent the others killed in the Holocaust. The school/town was visited by a group of Holocaust survivors from New York and a German couple who became very active with the students on the project obtained from Germany one of the actual cattle cars used to transport persons to the death camps. This cattle car became the repository for the paperclips and other mementos including letters from survivors/their families. After the movie we talked about the national movement of resistance to the Nazis by the Norwegians as they wore a paperclip to signify their non-violent decision not to obey Nazi commands.

On Saturday, everyone who chooses sleeps in, a couple of folks went to the Farmer's Market, others awoke to continue cleaning the property. Carol and Ardith worked on cutting brush, after getting soaked and rained out on Friday. Joe and Gary went to gather wood for the stove for winter warmth. I slept in, washed a sweater which I haven't been able to do as it needs to lay flat to dry (can't do that in a hotel room) and finished and showed to all who were interested Jason's photo album of his recovery at Walter Reed. Some of the Jonah House members were very emotionally and spiritually upset by the photos of Jason's injuries as they have all been to prison for committing civil disobedience to stop war beginning with the Vietnam era. I identify with them as I had the same feelings when I first arrived at Jason's bedside and all during these months that I have spent at WR with the suffering of other families and their wounded soldiers. It is only as a RC womanpriest of healing and reconciliation do I have the courage to be here for others. My love as his mother compels my presence for Jason as Mary at the Cross.

Saturday afternoon Gary and I headed to Baltimore's Charles Theater to attend the DaVinci Code. We invited everyone but they all begged off "with Saturday chores/we'll see the DVD." I had enjoyed the book as a "murder mystery" (not having any problem with its theological implications. It's fiction, folks). I enjoyed the movie especially the special effects that permitted the scenes to overlay the present with the past. Gary informed me that Baltimore has the highest violent crime rate in the nation. I thought, "I am glad Jonah House is located here to be a center of prayer and action for justice and peace." One of its ministries is supplying food for those who are hungry every Tuesday. We unloaded the food from the central food bank on Saturday morning. They fill up a van with macaroni and cheese, soups, boxes of cereal, pasta, etc. Bags of groceries are made up and distributed on Tuesday. They also use some of the purchased food for their own meals throughout the week. I only pray that the RCC would do more in the inner cities to provide jobs, health care and education and housing not close parishes and schools. But I digress...

When we got back from the movie and after dinner, the members take turns preparing meals, Liz suggested that we take the llamas and the goats for an evening walk out of their fenced in enclosure and around the cemetery paths. I couldn't have enjoyed any thing more than to see goats and llamas frolic along the paths in front of us. The pleasure expressed in the behavior of these animals brought tears to my eyes more than once as I watched the goats eat poison ivy, roses both the bushes and the flowers (none of this "Take time to smell the roses"-just "Eat them" attitude), mulberry trees, and wild grapes. The llamas walked ahead also tasting to their left and right sides of the path. They romping reminded me of kids let out of school after a hard day of work. They had been resting in their pasture yet once they got out of the enclosure it was as if none of the animals hadn't eaten in months! The grass is greener on the other side of the fence and poison ivy by the goat mouthful is delicious. The wonder of God's creation and the marvels of earth's evolution are spirit healing.

At the end of our walk, it was a delight to see the goats stretch up from their back legs to play a game of "catch us prune the plum tree." It must be a regular stop as the goats made a bee line for the tree immediately followed by Gary and Liz who literally collared them and dragged them down out of the leafy branches as "the goats unrepentantly chewed away." Made me laugh. Sort of like Charlie Brown and his kite. You know where the kite is going! We went in and as usual, I headed to bed about 9 PM falling asleep with the light on as the Peace of Jonah House settled into my soul and my body relaxed.

Sunday morning was another quiet slow time for me, however everyone else was preparing food and the liturgy which about 20 people of the Johan House Extended members attended. Susan presided and the liturgy with its shared homily/reflection time lasted about 2 and 1/2 hours. Some of the members present were Sr. Mary, Mary from CO, David, Joe, Rosemary and Art who had a DVD addressing the health issues surrounding the use of depleted uranium. Another movie discussed was Conviction the story of Sr. Carol's and Sr. Ardith's action at a nuclear weapons site. Both sisters went to prison and Ardith was only recently released after serving a 3 year sentence. Sr. Ardith said that her dad says, "I have the A to Z alphabet kids, one is in the military and one protests the actions of that military." The sisters told many stories of living near the SAC base in Michigan and befriending the soldiers and their families.

The readings focused on Ascension and "What it means to be a witness for Jesus/Compassion of God to the ends of the earth." We discussed the memory of the early faith community and what they were trying to communicate theologically about the Presence of Jesus with them by speaking of the resurrection and the ascension. After the service we ate lunch together and continued to discuss events, lives, and what it means to be a Peacemaker following Jesus. The sisters noted that research has shown that anyone in prison for 18 months suffers PTS. It is good Jonah House is a healing center for its members.

Liz who taught art history/appreciation/criticism said she did not like DaVinci "all of his figures are androgonous" as we had been talking about "Mary Magdalene in the Last Supper, not John (DaVinci Code)." Liz has been taking a water color class and showed us her photo copies of her latest Paul and Silas, the goats as they grazed by the barn. I know water color is a diffiuclt medium and she does very well. I looked at the goats, one is facing us, one is turned away. I thought of Liz and her deceased husband. Liz faces us. There is a wonderful collage hanging in the kitchen by Liz of the web of life filled with people, plants and animals. I liked it very much. It reminded me of my pastel called "Friends Visiting" and is of a mother elephant and her baby with the background being our front yard in Blacksburg. We are all one, all from one beautiful blue planet. Our DNA traces our development through the evolutionary process, will our love and compassion be our legacy for the next generation?

As I headed toward Jonah House on Thursday I remembered the ending line of Candide by Voltaire "That is very well put, said Candide, but we must cultivate our garden." I was not surprised but knew it to be synchronicity when I chose a bedroom, bright with sunlight and facing West with a copy of Candide on its bookshelf. Earlier in the chapter, they have a conversation with a Turk who says, "I have only twenty acres, replied the Turk; I cultivate them with my children, and the work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice and poverty. Candide, as he walked back to his farm meditated deeply over the words of the Turk...I know also, said Candide, that we must cultivate our garden."

Reflecting on my time at Jonah House, my first visit that the members do "cultivate our garden." The Garden of:
  • the reign of God, enfleshing justice and peace through action and through example of "Living simply so that others might simply live."
  • individual lives growing ever deeper into the Peace that only "God can give."
  • communal sharing of faith and support for one another and all whom God sends to their door of gracious hospitality as of Abraham and Sarah of old.
  • vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, and animals to nourish body and spirit
  • of the cemetery, honoring those who have died and providing a living witness to the cycle of life, death, and life. We all shall lie in the cemetery and only our love remain in the collective unconscious of humanity and memories of those who knew us.
Thank you, each member of Jonah House, "Nemaste," "The God in me greets the God in you." May the blessings you are and which you shared with me come back to you three fold. Till we meet again. May we walk humbly with God "in the garden in the evening" as we work for justice and peace.

To Have a Part
-Honored to Participate

I give thanks Holy Mystery,
to have a part in this evolutionary phenomenon,
and to strive for communion with all of life,
however diverse and bewildering,
to be alive and conscious
in the midst of an unfolding universe
whose existence stretches back
an almost unthinkable passage of time,
across an almost inconceivable ocean of space.

To know my own true name this day
is to recognize myself to be your creature, your child,
your very hope and promise,
and to pledge myself as faithfully as I can
to celebrate my part in this colossal drama
with passion and humility.
Amen.
___________________________________
We are called to put our hands on creation and speak to it in words and touch, telling it how lovely it is--because it cannot remember. We are called to remember loveliness for one another until each of can remember, believe, and live in that love. Sr. Mary Goergen, OSF

Both from Prayers to an Evolutionary God by William Cleary:2004

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katy,
What a wonderful diary entry. And what a fantastic place. Isn't the United States an incredible place. filled with marvelous people?
I enjoyed reading your account so much, especially the part about those animals getting out and running free to eat whatever they wanted.
It sounds like that experience really did wonders for you. GREAT!
Love,
Judy

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katy....God's timing was just right as you enjoyed your week-end of work and rest. You probably needed this time to refresh your body and spirit. Thanks for the beautifully written account. Will be looking for it in your book!!
Dorothy Franks

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:11:00 AM  

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