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The Graf Family mini-website has outgrown the MilwaukeeRenaissance.com greenhouse!

Projects that Bob Graf has started with other community members are still here on the MilwaukeeRenaissance.com, where growing conditions are so great for small, tender seedlings — see

Moving to our new wiki home, at NonviolentWorm.org:

Included below is the live home page of the NEW Diary of a Worm, on the New NonviolentWorm.org wiki website. Clicking any link below will bring you to our new site!

Nonviolent Cow : DiaryOfAWorm/Diary of a Worm browse

Welcome to the Journal of the Graf Family Growing Power Home Model


Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09



In January of 2006 I toured Will Allen’s Growing Power farm. Inspired by the Growing Power vision, my wife, son, a family friend and I constructed a home-based version of the Growing Power system in our sun-room.

We started by building an 8′ X 2′ box in our three-season room, and (with help of good persons at Growing Power and some worms) grew, with mixed results, salad greens and seedlings for the first summer’s garden. As the seasons change, our focus shifts back and forth between the sun-room and its evolving Growing Power Home Garden Project Box, and our Growing Power backyard garden, where we use the rich soil, worm castings and worms from the indoor box outdoors. Same system yet different.

Digging in the earth can uncover all kinds of things, and so can digging deep in ourselves. In my online journal, I have been recording daily reflections on the progress of our efforts in adapting the Growing Power model to our home and garden, mixed with my observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends. Enjoy. Thank you! — Bob Graf


Click below to read any post in full — see the Archives for older posts.


Cows and Self Restraint - Sunday, August 31, 2014


Carson and Cow to Show

Every Labor Day weekend is the Shawano County Faith and means we get to watch our grandchildren join other 4-H youth showing cows for a day. The first time through the coliseum the cow is judged and the second time through the youth is judged on how she or he handles the cow. It might not sound too exciting but it is watching your grandchildren and youth you know stand proud with their cows.

My son and his wife both work in an urban town by live in a rural area across from a family with a Dairy farm. Rural youth these days have the advantage of both worlds, urban and country. They belong to country 4-H clubs, attend excellent schools where full array of sports and extracurricular activities are available and have friends growing up like them. My son and his wife work hard to keep up the lifestyle the family enjoys but the opportunities and environment is beyond so many families in USA, especially in our poor and segregated urban areas, like North Central Milwaukee.

It has become harder and harder to be poor and harder and harder to be like my son’s family. Yet at same time there are a very small percentage of people who are become extraordinarily rich and the gap of inequality between them and my son’s family and a family in need in North Central Milwaukee widens.

I recently read a quote on Facebook page by the Pope saying: “Inequality is the root of social evils.” Someone criticized the quote saying this statement has been around for hundreds of years. Actually it has been around for thousands of years. I remember hearing about a 30 year old homeless Palestinian Jew walking around saying how the rich were blessed and how hard it was for the rich to get to Kingdom of Heaven. He, Jesus, eventually got executed by empire of the day but his message, like prophets before and after him, lives on. Yet many bow down at the altar of greedy capitalism where some profit at expense of others and rich get richer and poor get poorer.

I know some believe we live in a land free of racism, sexism, discrimination and many believe there is nothing we can do about it. Yet for some we must continue to fight for peace and liberty no matter the rejection or marginalization. How to do this in an economic greedy environment? Gandhi says the one condition for fighting for peace and liberty is to acquire self-restrain.” By changing ourselves with use of self-restraint we can change the environment.

Cows are a symbol of life, that when nurtured present nourishment for life, be it with milk, meat, manure for fertilization or medicine. We can learn from the cow and by using our powers of self-restraint condition ourselves for the struggle of life.


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Endangered Species and Racism - Friday, August 29, 2014


Dontre Hamilton

Today I attended a rally calling for full disclosure for Dontre Hamilton who was killed four months ago by a police officer who woke him up sleeping on bench in the public park. The family has received no information from the police about Dontre’s death, not even the name of the police officer. So they have taken to the streets with rallies and marches seeking answers to the death of this young black man by police. There is a history of District Attorney’s not prosecuting police for a killing while he or she was on duty.

Somehow I felt over animated at the rally when talking about issues or during our small group. My stereotype of being “passionate but not respectful” was partially true. I found myself too caught up articulating my thoughts and maybe not listening well to others. I am not sure what causes this affect in me, maybe not taking my medicine properly, maybe too much coffee but it is something I need to continue to work on.

Not an excuse but part of it is that I am tired of hearing the same things over and over again, like today reminders to vote Nov. 4th. What has voting Nov. 4th to do with Dontre’s death or police protecting their own? Voting does not matter in our society where 95% of the time the candidate with the most money wins. Democratic or Republican it does not seem to matter when it comes to racism or militarism.

Another not an excuse but part of my uneasiness at such events is the reluctance of using word ‘racism’ at such rallies. No matter what race the police officer was it is a ‘racist’ act to wake up a sleeping black man on a park bench and when he gets frighten to shoot him 14 times. Do you think any police office of any race would do that to a white man?

When I heard Dontre brother talk I remember all the times my son Peter told us how he was harassed and beat by police officer. Except for his white skin he might have been killed as Dontre. It is not police officers that are the problem, my other son is a police officer in another city, but it is the ‘racism’ bred into the police and people of Milwaukee that make these terrible acts possible.

Young adult black men are an ‘endangered species’ and the evil behind their deaths is ‘racism.’


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Remembering the Milwaukee 14 Today - Thursday, August 28, 2014


Dear Friends and Peacemakers,

Forty-six years ago I was a Marquette University student. The opportunity came for me to be part of the Milwaukee 14, destroying 10, 000 IA selective files. At the time he seemed natural and the right thing to do, opposing the selective service system and war in Vietnam.

Now, forty-six later we have “endless wars” all over the world and the Department of Defense, DOD, has traded the Selective Service System for an education program that starts in 5th grade with Starbase, in high school with JROTC and in select universities ROTC. For example, Marquette University hosts for the DoD officer military training for Departments of Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force for all colleges and universities in Southeast Wisconsin. Educational institutions like Marquette are the new selective service system supplying men and woman for our ‘endless wars.’

It is only natural and the right thing to do to resist Institutional Militarism. Military values taught at Marquette, like reflexive killing, killing without conscience are directly opposed to Gospel values like the dignity of life.

At the rally on Sept. 24th, the 46th anniversary, we will gather on 12th and Wisconsin in Milwaukee on the Marquette University campus. We will have speakers, music and nonviolent direct action for those that want to do something. Our message is simple: Marquette University, Be Faithful to the Gospel, and No Longer Host Departments of Military Science. In the 46 Years of Nonviolent Resistance to Military at Marquette we have gone from hundreds of Marquette students protesting ROTC on campus to nearly none. It is time for us who remember the Milwaukee 14, Catonsville 9 and the many similar to say to students one more time: Stop Militarism at Marquette. We need to break the silence this September 24th. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

See the flyer below and Ala Art pass it out everywhere.


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No More Flowers? - Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Flowers from Garden on KitchenTable Tonight

A friend who lives in a Catholic retirement home invited us over to dinner and concert at the home today. The concert was put by on elderly residents of the home and featured a number of folk songs. One song “Where have all the Flowers gone, lyrics below, a song that I heard many times before, struck me as fresh and new.

Pete Seeger who wrote the first three verses of the song was someone I actually had met. The first time was in 1968 when I went with Father James Groppi of Milwaukee on a bus to Resurrection City in D.C as part of the Poor Peoples campaign that Martin Luther King Jr. had called before he was assassinated. It was a casual meeting as he was sitting around one of the tents constructed just practicing his music. I did not realize that a year later Peter Seeger would be in Milwaukee performing a benefit concert for the Milwaukee 14 which I was part of.

What struck me about this folk song tonight was the circular nature of the song. The song, Seeger adopted from a Russian folk song, starts with the question Where have all the flowers gone and ends with the flowers growing. In between there is the tragedy of war and the suffering and death it brings.

Flowers come and go naturally but in this song it is man-made war that interrupts nature, but at the end is subject to nature.

Now that we live in a time of “endless wars” and man-made tragedies by ignoring our environment how will nature ever restore the flowers? I think of the flowers on my kitchen table. When they die I just go out in the rain garden and pick some more. But in late fall into the winter I will not be able to pick new flowers in the garden till the spring. If winter, like wars of today, never ended, there would be no more flowers for the vase. We must stop war and teaching of war, like at Marquette University; otherwise there will no more flowers.


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Son and Best Friend - Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Peter Graf at Digital Art show.

Four years ago today I lost my son and friend, Peter. At first I was in denial about his death. However, about a month later I felt the shadow of death descend on me. At first I felt like I was going to die but soon realized it was the presence and death of Peter that I felt.

The last four years of his life he lived upstairs at our house. He suffered greatly from his brain illness but what probably hurt him most was the stigma that comes with mental illnesses. As a young person he was full of creativity, humor and was the life of the party. In college when he got ill and depression took over he still had hope that with time his illness was passed. He was scared of treatment and he had good reason to be. Pat and I tried our best, with commitments, encouragement and being loving parents to help him. He resented some of our actions but always was forgiving and understood that we were trying to do what was best for him. It was the social agencies that labeled him a ‘consumer’ and when he was show signs of health kept him down and dependent.

Peter was a creative artist with music and art. When he lived here he spent a lot of time creating digital art with the ‘paint program’ on the computer. I encouraged him to start his own web page of nonviolentcow.org and he did. Check it out at Peter Graf. After he died I had plans to do something with his art work but outside of some T shirts and prints we have not done much. Peter’s art was part of him and there was no way we could disconnect it from him.

A few months before he died he asked me if I knew who his “best friend” was. I could only think of one person that had stuck with him over the years but even that person had to separate himself from Peter some because of his own mental health and drinking problems. I said his name and Peter said no. He then told me I was his best friend. I was delighted and sadden by his comment. I was glad he looked on me as a faithful friend but sad that he, due to his illness, had been abandoned by so many.

It is hard to lose a son and it was made worst by loosing a best friend.


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Follow Nature - Monday, August 25, 2014


“Nature does not hurry,yet everything is accomplished.(Lao Tzu)

During our faith sharing in our Faith In Recovery group last Sunday someone started talking about what grounded and relaxed him. I started to think in my own life what that may be. I came up with St. Vincent de Paul home visits and working in the garden. Since last Friday I have made with Pat or Brien 16 home visits to people in need in North Century Milwaukee. Being able to give a child a bed to sleep on or a parent a stove or refrigerator to prepare food is fulfilling experience. People are always so grateful and the kids are cute.

With weather and home visits I have not been able to spend a lot of time in the garden but have done some. I have known for a long time that the garden really grounded and relaxed me. One part is physical as I documented in the Featured Article Nature’s Bounty, Soil Salvation. The other part is the lessons of nature that come with working in the garden. A quote sent to me today speaks of an important lesson of nature: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” (Lao Tzu) I feel that when I am in accord with my true nature and self I get done what I need to do. There is no need to rush, just do what you believe is the right thing. When we are true to our nature and true followers of the “Way of Jesus” we can say with Rev. John L. McKenzie: “The thing about following Jesus is that you don’t do the right thing because it works; you do it because it’s the right thing. If it doesn’t work, nothing works because the wrong thing doesn’t work either. I think we have proven that.”

Jesus also told us that the “Blessed are the Poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” so if we follow nature, be in solidarity with poor and do the right thing we got it made.


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Revolutionary Change - Sunday, August 24, 2014


Revolutionary Change

The Earth is falling down on us:
Earthquakes in California,
New Dow chemical for corn and soy bean crops,
Using chemicals in Agent Orange in Vietnam.
All many of the poor want
Is to have a working stove and refrigerator
And a house free from bed bugs.
We could provide everyone in need of basic appliance or new beds
With less money than it cost to build a new Thrift store in suburbs,
Where it is not needed, with money belonging to poor.
Earthquakes are nature made, or so we now think,
While deadly chemicals, rental units without stoves and refrigerators
And beg bug infestations going wild are human made tragedies.
Maybe we cannot stop the money of Dow chemical form making these deadly chemicals
But with about a million dollars we can create a “Sustainable Works of Mercy” fund
To provide stoves, refrigerators and beds for all those in need.
Also the people of the city can declare a war on bed bugs and greedy landlords.
With my wife or friend and I have made 10 home visits to people in need the last few days
And tomorrow will make four or five more.
Providing a bed for a child to sleep on
Or a stove or refrigerator for a mother to prepare healthy food.
These are Work of Mercy that can provide more social change than any thrift store in the suburbs?
Or petitions against Dow chemical company.
These Works of Mercy make Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Now that is what we call real “revolutionary change.”


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A Few People’s Politics can Hurt Many - Saturday, August 23, 2014


ISIS using USA weapons

A page on this web site that I have not added anything to in a long time is one called Inconvenient Facts and Pictures. It is not that there has not been anything to add but there is so much contradiction in the world that I am getting used to it. A headline in the newspaper, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, caught my attention the other day. It read Wisconsin loses $206 million by not fully expanding BadgerCare.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker likes to brag about how much he has saved Wisconsin taxpayers during his first term in office, but in reality he has cost taxpayers millions of dollars by refusing to fully expand the state’s primary health care program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act. Because of politics 63, 000 people were dropped from BadgerCare, state health care program, and the taxpayers will pay out about 206 million dollars the next two years and health care for poor and those just above the poverty line will become worse. In the name of noncooperation with Affordable Care Act, the Governor will give us an inferior health system that cost more.

Another inconvenient fact is that after the beheading of an American hostage last week the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) became our number one enemy, over al-Qaeda and any other Islamic militant group or terrorist organization. ISIS is a terrible threat to people of Iraq but the problem is that ISIS is the main opposition group to the government of Syria and its President, Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The USA, like ISIS is working for the overthrow of Assad regime. So ISIS our sworn enemy in Iraq is the sworn enemy of Assad government in Syria, our sworn enemy.

These contradictions of a governor promoting tax cuts yet raising cost to taxpayers by lowing health care and the USA government dedicated to the destruction of ISIS but indirectly supporting it in Syria might seem silly or stupid if they were not the cause of so much suffering and death.

I have friends who cannot get proper health care without great expense and long waits due to the Governor’s decision not to accept federal money. The UN reports the death toll in the war in Syria now tops 191, 000 persons with many more injured or refuges. A few people’s politics can hurt many.


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Data Driven Policing Ignoring the Facts - Friday, August 22, 2014


Police Chief with his Data

Tonight I went to a rally and March for two African American young men who were killed. One was by a police officer who woke up a person with a mental illness sleeping on a bench in a Public Park. The other was a young man who was killed by three white men who put him in a choke hole when they suspected he was robbing a store. The demonstration was sparked by the demand for justice in Ferguson shooting of unarmed African American male.

If discrimination against young African American males is to stop it must stop with holding persons that kill these men accountable under the law. As I mentioned last night in the posting, this protest against the authorities has been building up for awhile.

There were lots of demands by protesters for city officials but interesting enough not one of them was for police to invest in Crisis Intervention Team, CIP, training, which consists of specialized training in dealing with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, is a fuel to the fire of racism. The incident at Red Arrow Park where we rallied today could have been avoided if the police officer has been trained to deal with men sleeping on public par benches. However, I doubt if people today even heard about CIP.

Learning from the past or even correcting information when the facts are known does not seem to be a high priority of politicians or police. A few years back, at my request Politicifact Wisconsin in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel checked out our Police Chief’s statement that 85 percent of shooting suspects and victims in Milwaukee have “extensive criminal record.” After research of the facts they determined this statement was Half True. Yet in Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Police Chief is quoted as saying after some recent shootings: “It’s overwhelmingly committed by people with criminal records against other people with criminal records who don’t care how much jeopardy they put children of their neighborhood in while they commit their crimes. So the police chief has gone from 85% of victims of shootings have criminal records to “overwhelmingly” number of victims have criminal records The fact check saying his statement was only half truth did not seem to slow him down.

Although I love to do research, I do realize that “facts do not matter” when it comes to serious matters like shooting victims. What is really hard to understand is that our police chief prides himself in “data driven policing” while he ignores the facts.


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Cauldron of Racism - Thursday, August 21, 2014


Outbreaks of rage against the police, like by the people of Ferguson, do not just happen. Yes, an incident like the shooting of a young unarmed black male by a white police officer sparked the outbreak but forces were building up for quite some time in this community.

Milwaukee, a racially segregated city, like Ferguson, is building up for an explosion from racism. Incidents, like the taking down of basketball rims in predominately white neighbors when African American males start playing basketball in the park is a spark. A police chief, supported by a Mayor, who believes in “data driven policing” and targeting African American neighbors for police car stops but does not believe in Crisis Intervention Team training, which consists of specialized training in dealing with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, adds fuel to the fire of racism. A St. Vincent de Paul Society, dedicated to person to person service to people in need, building a multi-million dollar thrift store in suburbs where it is not needed, rather than in North Central Milwaukee where it is needed, adds to the cauldron of racism.

As in the 60’s in the USA or in the imprisonment of Palestinians in Gaza, when enough acts of racism, discrimination or apartheid build up they are bound to boil over into society. When the ‘good people’ are silent during these incidents enough sins are added to the cauldron of evil. The cauldron overflows or bust and we are all affected by the consuming fire.


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Money, Power and the Poor - Wednesday, August 20, 2014


It was in the 80’s again today, but for this summer it was hot.

This morning I attended an event at St. Ben’s Church to support the statewide 11 X 15 campaign for prison reform. Since in my perspective works of mercy take precedent over works of resistance, when it came time to march, I stayed behind to make phone calls to people in need to arrange a home visit my wife, Pat or friend Brian and myself. Home visits are at the heart of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Sitting down with people in need we talk with them on a personal visit and ask how we might serve them. These days, with poverty in Milwaukee at an all time high it is usually by providing them with basics, beds, refrigerator, stove or some furniture. Since our conference has such a large back log of calls for home visits I took a 15 home visits and had 2 others left from last month. While others marched for justice I was able to make the 17 phone calls for home visits and by the end of the day have made 16 home visit appointments. These personal home visit arrangements for a day make me feel blessed that we can be of service to God’s blessed persons. I was hot.

Thinking about the 5 million dollars investment an elite group in St. Vincent de Paul is making for a thrift store in the suburbs, where it is not needed, rather than North Central Milwaukee where it is needed, for a much lesser cost, made me angry. I have written much about the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul and the more I make home visits and see how this ‘elite’ group spends money belonging to the poor the angrier I get. However, I am trying to channel my anger into direct nonviolent action with the poor confronting the elite about spending so much money on persons in suburbs and neglecting the those in need. With just one million of the five million they are proposing to spend within the year we could establish the and provide beds and appliances to all those in need.

The elite of the Society and the Catholic Church hierarchy have decided by word, action or silence to side with those who want to invest the poor’s money in the suburbs. In my mind this is immoral or, in the old days of the Catholic Church, would have been called a mortal sin.

People with money have the power and people with power have the money. Except in this case, the money does not belong to those in power but to the poor. We need to take back our money and invest our money back in the community of those in need. With God’s blessing we will succeed, maybe not in the future but in the Kingdom of God on Earth.


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Blessed are the Dependent - Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Poor Blind Beggar inback of Italian Church

A friend of mine from the Milwaukee 14 days sent me this quote from a letter of Thomas Merton to Daniel Berrigan: …. “I am sick up to the teeth and beyond the teeth, up to the eyes and beyond the eyes, with all forms of projects and expectations and statements and programs and explanations of anything, especially explanations about where we are all going, because where we are all going is where we went a long time ago, over the falls. We are in a new river and we don’t know it.”

People do not ask me where we are going, like Thomas Merton, but often I feel the same way because of our lack of history “where we are all going is where we went a long time ago, over the falls .“ “ We are in a new river and we don’t know it.” This feeling fits in well with my “Wake Up” philosophy, just having ears to hear and eyes to see.

But at the end I must accept that I can change no one except myself and work hard to change the environment so it is “easy to be good.” It gets frustrating at times because I can see how life is getting harder for the poor and easier for the rich.

At faith sharing this morning a person asked the group, after hearing about all he ills of today, where do we get our hope? It was a good question and all I could think about was how we must “do the right thing” even if the results are not what we want. Struggling for what we believe is right and just and not getting it makes me feel poor. I now understand why Jesus said in the first beatitude, “Blessed are the Poor.” To be poor, be one rich or poor or in between, means to be dependent on God. We all like to be in control so being dependent on anyone, even God, is tough. But the second part of the beatitude: “For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” seems to make this kind of poverty worthwhile.


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A Man of Prayer - Monday, August 18, 2014


Father Bill as St. Ignatiusaccepting weapons of soldiers

Tonight was the visitation and funeral mass for my friend Father Bill Brennan S.J. As expected there were many persons present, since in his 94 years of life Bill touched many lives. The button on his body in the casket tonight read “ = Human Rites, Ordain Women”. Bill was passionate for many causes of justice and peace but this was his last big one, a pioneer in the struggle for Woman’s ordination. One human right, not mentioned tonight, was Bill’s struggle against ROTC, military training, at Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit University.

I have a lot of memories about Bill’s work to stop military training at this Jesuit Catholic University. One of my fondest is when we planned some street theater and needed a black robe and priest hat for someone to play St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, Society of Jesus. Ignatius, a soldier, had surrendered his weapon before the statue of Black Madonna to become a soldier for Christ. I called Fr. Bill to see if he had the items and he said yes but had one condition for us using them: he was to play St. Ignatius in the street theater. We were glad to hear of his participation and the street drama in front of the Marquette University library went well. It was just across the street from the Jesuit residence and Father Brennan told me he was not a welcome guest for awhile at the Jesuit residence.

I was Bill at SOAWatch, the scene of his final action when he celebrated mass with a woman priest. He faced sanctions for his action but he took it in stride and till his death, and even in his casket, still spoke out for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

His struggle for human rights, the poor, marginalized, immigrants and peace were celebrated. But one thing I noticed about Bill was that he thought out and prayed about his actions. Bill was a person of many faces but the best we can say was that, like St. Ignatius of Loyola, he was a man of prayer.


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Waste and Time Makes Healthy Ground - Sunday, August 17, 2014


Compost pile of Waste

Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Mint, Basel, Eggplant, Hot Peppers, Lettuce and Flowers of all kinds are a few of the things produced in our gardens as of today. I have noticed that the three pictures of the gardens appearing at the beginning of Diary of Worm are outdated and do not look much like the gardens of today. I have taken some new pictures and now need to put them on the web page.

The three gardens are always changing, the vegetable and rain gardens in front of the house and the garden in the backyard. Now my wife, Pat, is encouraging me to redesign the garden in the backyard. I agree it needs redesigning and will start this fall and continue into the spring of 2015.

If you just count the amount of flowers and vegetables realized by the gardens against the hours and money invested the gardens are a waste of time, money and effort. But gardens and working on gardens are a spiritual creation and produce more than flowers and vegetables. Making the fertile soil, planting, picking and even weeding bring us closer to the earth and the natural cycles of life.

Working in the garden, like today, brings peace and frees our minds from so much burdens of information. It brings me into the natural cycles of myself, people and earth around me.

Growing power types of gardens like mine use waste, cut grass, coffee grinds, discarded vegetables, leaves and other ‘waste’ to build fertile soil. Nature can turn waste into something fruitful and productive. This is a nice thought especially on days when you feel you wasted. Waste with time makes healthy ground.


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Cycles Come and Go - Saturday, August 16, 2014


Cycle of Life - India

We received condolences upon the death of Father Brennan S.J. from two friends, far apart but one in spirit with Father Brennan and the works of justice and peace. One was from a friend in Kabul, Afghanistan who is working with a group of young peacemakers, trying to bring some peace and order to dreadful and long war. The other was a friend with a peace delegation to Uruguay. This friend was the woman/priest who said Mass with Father Brennan at SOAWatch that got this old priest, 94 at death, into trouble.

Looking at these friends struggling for justice and peace, I see something in common, our ages. Looking behind us to the next generation I see many good people but not many consumed, in a good way, in the struggle for peace and justice. Looking further behind I see a generation where creative conflict is not a good thing and a generation more individualistically centered. Someone reminded me today that life cycles and what might be important today. That is probably true but when you are at one end of a cycle it is hard to see the other end. When you get older it is even harder to see the other end of the cycle.

Maybe the point is to live fully be it in Kabul, Uruguay or Milwaukee. Allow the cycles to come and go but stay in the present.


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Fish and Cucumbers - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Early this spring my wife, Pat, and I purchased our fishing licenses, expecting that we would be going fishing this summer. It has been a busy and cool summer and we just have not got around to it yet. Maybe tomorrow when we go up North to drop something off at our son’s and his family, we will go finishing at a nearby lake. I told a friend who is house bound that we are going fishing and she said that was great and to bring her back some fish. I had to admit to her we are the kind of fishermen that go fishing and do not catch fish.

Now giving out cucumbers I can do. After many years of failure to grow cucumbers in the backyard I planted one plant in the front yard garden along with the tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplants, all sun loving and water plants. It is growing and delivering many cucumbers to our surprise, not one we expected.

Life is often like fishing and cucumbers. Often we do not do what we expect but end up with something unexpected. Life sometimes delivers cucumbers instead of fish.


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Bill Brennan S.J., A Person who lived his conscience - Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Bill Brennan S.J.May 14, 1920 - August 11, 2014

News came today that Father Bill Brennan S.J. had died. Since he was 94 it should have been of no surprise to me but it was and really saddened me. A mutual friend, Jerry Zawada OFM and I had recently visited Bill in the Jesuit retirement home. Although his body was mostly paralyzed, his mind was clear. I remember we had an active conversation with two other elderly Jesuits, one who had spent a long time in the Vatican and the other many years in Africa. We talked about many topics including one of Bill’s favorite, woman’s ordination.

Bill was a strong advocate of women priest and at his last visit to the vigil at Fort Benning with SOAWatch had con-celebrated Mass with another mutual friend, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a woman Catholic priest. For this Bill got in trouble with the religious order and Rome and was restricted. After he became paralyzed it was not much of a problem.

He got permission last year to attend the May 1st celebration for immigration rights with Hispanic community. I was going to go with him in a handicap van but found out, that with his large wheel chair, he needed a special kind of van for which he was not signed up for. With the help of the minister at the Jesuit retirement home we arranged for his ability for such a van. At a mutual Jesuit friend’s funeral, right after Bill turned 94, I said I would, for his birthday present, arrange for his attendance at a community event. But I got busy and never did it.

I have many wonderful memories of Bill. One is we were sitting at a restaurant in Columbus, near Fort Benning, waiting for time to board the bus back to the Atlanta airport. Due to a rainy day people got to the busy early and they were ready to leave when they noticed we were not on the bus. They called. At the time, Bill had a walker with a seat. I remember racing in the rain pushing Bill seated in the walker across a parking lot to get to the bus. We made it in time, without a spill.

Bill lived a full life with a passion for justice for all that he practiced. The Jesuits do not realize how many lives Bill touched since they scheduled his funeral visitation and mass in a chapel in the retirement home that could not possibly hold the people I expect that will be there, from all walks of life, all races, poor, middle class, rich, young and old.

Bill was a person who lived his conscience.


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Spoken Words are Best - Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Tonight I had three long conversations with family and friends by phone. I get many calls but they usually are short. These conversations were personal and a sharing of feelings and thought with persons on a wide range of subjects. It was time away from other pursuits but time worth spending. Again it demonstrated to me how personal phone conversations can be over emails. On the phone, as in person, words are not frozen and can be explained or re-framed for a better understanding.

Emails are good for communication of articles and information but they are not flexible for true understanding. A good example is an email conversation I am having with a friend about ‘opinion’ and ‘truth’. He mistook a quote I gave him from Dorothy Day to say the opposite of what I was trying to communicate. I can write back clarifying my thoughts but without a personal conversation, person to person, or via phone things are likely to become more confused.

To practice what I preach I should slow down on the emails I write with opinions, morals, values or statements. Without the flexibility of speech emails can be more confusing. People do not want to hear about racism, spending money for the poor or teaching war in person or by phone let alone by email. The time I spend writing emails perhaps should be spent writing articles that I can publish on my web page or someone else. Articles, based on research and history, might not get read but allow more space and words for an understanding of what I need to say. People may not read the articles but at least I will be satisfied of having said what I may feel a need to say, without having a personal conversation in person or by phone with everyone. Yet, spoken words are best.


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Rejects Blow the Dynamite - Monday, August 11, 2014


“To blow the dynamite
of a message
is the only way
to make the message dynamic.”
Peter Maurin in an Easy Essay

I have always been attracted to this quote from an “Essay Essay” of Peter Maurin. The problem today is how, in an age of media overkill, too much information, numbness of people who do not want to hear a message, how you blow the dynamite of a message. My experience is that the message is ignored and/or the messenger is marginalized. If the messengers persist they might get a courtesy response but if they keep on persisting that the message be responded to they, with the message will ignored. Seeing and hearing a message you do not want to hear has become an art form in USA.

Locally, I have been involved with messaged like “Marquette University Teaches Killing”, Taking down the rims at Doyne County Park is a form of racism and building a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store in Greenfield for millions is wrong and immoral. These are messages people do not want to hear or enter into creative dialog so they are ignored. Friends have asked me to give up on these issues but how I cannot figure out to ignore my conscience.

If I could just blow the dynamite on these messages they would be dynamic. I have tried research about these messages but rational or historic augments are not in vogue. People just call facts “my opinion”. There is a very weak sense of right and wrong and of conscience. We are drowned in issues and causes on all sides and just pick and choose the ones we like to hear and shut out the rest. We are so desensitized that even pictures, like those of Palestinian children brutally killed in Gaza, if we are exposed to one, do not move us to cry out for the US and Israel to stop the killing.

If words and pictures do not work, how do we “blow the dynamite” of the message? A few take nonviolent actions, like entering a nuclear or drone base, but only few, those who agree, even notice the actions. Civil disobedience has been rendered weak in blowing the dynamite of a message.

If Jesus was alive today and was falsely accused and killed by the government for treason, as he was by the Roman Empire in Palestine, I do not think there will not be much of a notice. When walking the way of the Cross in Jerusalem we were just another group of pilgrims ignored by crowds around us just as Jesus was probably just another criminal killed by Romans in his day.

If all this sounds negative and depressing it can be. People with mental illnesses like my son or Robin Williams, the actor, just get so overcome from their depression that they have no way out except suicide. But persons like us ‘normal’ or ‘next to normal’ do not have that option. We can numb ourselves, be insensitive, ignore the message or face the messages of our times and open ourselves, like Jesus, to be outcast and rejects. Peter Maurin was an outcast from society and by accepting his condition and still speaking out he made a difference. Maybe just Rejects can blow the dynamite of a message.


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A Friend In Need - Sunday, August 10, 2014


The Gospel today in Church was the story about Jesus walking on water during a storm on Lake Galilee and rescuing Peter when he falls in the water. Afterwards I remembered that when I was a youth minister and student at the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola I wrote this reflection on this Gospel. Tonight I will just share it.


A FRIEND IN NEED

Everyone wants to touch this man.
Be his friend.
Jesus, who can do all this things—
Feed people when there is no food,
Heal people, who are sick and dying,
Evict the demons of mind and body.

Is this not the kind of Friend?
We all would like?
One who is always there
When we need a Friend.

Jesus tells the disciples
To take the boat across the sea
While he goes up to the mountain to pray
He slips away
Alone.

Just when he is most popular,
When everyone wants to be his friend,
To follow him
He sends his real friends away,
And walks by himself.

Evening sets
While Jesus prays
A nasty storm rocks the boat.
The hard winds of the night
Shake the boat and troubles his friends.
Their friend, Jesus, is nowhere to be found.

Just when we need a friend most
Our friend is not to be found
We are left to cast for ourselves
In the troubling waters of life.

As the morning light approaches,
The disciples are weary from the long night
Of tossing and turning.
A shadowing figure appears
Walking on the water,
“Is it a ghost”?
They cry out in fear!

Sometimes when everything is going wrong
It gets worst.
Nothing we do is right.
We feel frustrated and down.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them:
“Take heart, it is I, your friend, Jesus.
Do not be Afraid.”

Peter, the impetuous one, shouts
“If it is okay with you, let me come
To be with you on the waters.”
Jesus simply says: “Come.”

When the storms of life beat on us
And we see some glimmer of hope
Like Peter we seek a friend,
To be with in our moment of need.

Peter, forgetting all
But his desire to join his friend,
Jumps out of the boat,
Walks on the Water to him.
Suddenly he notices the wind and the Water
He begins to sink.

When we are really happy with ourselves
Being all we can be,
Pleased with friends and family
How time flies.
Suddenly we remember all our troubles
Notice all our ills
Our bubble bursts.
We sink back once more
Into our timely troubles.

Jesus reaches out his hand
Saves Peter from the sea and
Says, “Why did you doubt me,
Lose you trust in me?”

Jesus, our friend can
Once more
Pull us out of the sea
When we sink
When we doubt.
When the trouble waters surround us,
Our True Friend is always there.

Jesus and Peter enter the boat
All becomes calm
The wild wind ceases
The friends in awe say again:
“Truly, Friend, you are the Son of God.”

Everyone wants to touch this man.
Be his friend.
Jesus, who can do all this things—
Feed people when there is no food,
Heal people, who are sick and dying,
Evict the demons of mind and body.

Is this not the kind of Friend?
We all would like?
One who is always there
When we need a Friend.

Jesus tells the disciples
To take the boat across the sea
While he goes up to the mountain to pray
He slips away
Alone.

Just when he is most popular,
When everyone wants to be his friend,
To follow him
He sends his real friends away,
And walks by himself.

Evening sets
While Jesus prays
A nasty storm rocks the boat.
The hard winds of the night
Shake the boat and troubles his friends.
Their friend, Jesus, is nowhere to be found.

Just when we need a friend most
Our friend is not to be found
We are left to cast for ourselves
In the troubling waters of life.

As the morning light approaches,
The disciples are weary from the long night
Of tossing and turning.
A shadowing figure appears
Walking on the water,
“Is it a ghost”?
They cry out in fear!

Sometimes when everything is going wrong
It gets worst.
Nothing we do is right.
We feel frustrated and down.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them:
“Take heart, it is I, your friend, Jesus.
Do not be Afraid.”

Peter, the impetuous one, shouts
“If it is okay with you, let me come
To be with you on the waters.”
Jesus simply says: “Come.”

When the storms of life beat on us
And we see some glimmer of hope
Like Peter we seek a friend,
To be with in our moment of need.

Peter, forgetting all
But his desire to join his friend,
Jumps out of the boat,
Walks on the Water to him.
Suddenly he notices the wind and the Water
He begins to sink.

When we are really happy with ourselves
Being all we can be,
Pleased with friends and family
How time flies.
Suddenly we remember all our troubles
Notice all our ills
Our bubble bursts.
We sink back once more
Into our timely troubles.

Jesus reaches out his hand
Saves Peter from the sea and
Says, “Why did you doubt me,
Lose you trust in me?”

Jesus, our friend can
Once more
Pull us out of the sea
When we sink
When we doubt.
When the trouble waters surround us,
Our True Friend is always there.

Jesus and Peter enter the boat
All becomes calm
The wild wind ceases
The friends in awe say again:
“Truly, Friend, you are the Son of God.”

Everyone wants to touch this man.
Be his friend.
Jesus, who can do all this things—
Feed people when there is no food,
Heal people, who are sick and dying,
Evict the demons of mind and body.

Is this not the kind of Friend?
We all would like?
One who is always there
When we need a Friend.

Jesus tells the disciples
To take the boat across the sea
While he goes up to the mountain to pray
He slips away
Alone.

Just when he is most popular,
When everyone wants to be his friend,
To follow him
He sends his real friends away,
And walks by himself.

Evening sets
While Jesus prays
A nasty storm rocks the boat.
The hard winds of the night
Shake the boat and troubles his friends.
Their friend, Jesus, is nowhere to be found.

Just when we need a friend most
Our friend is not to be found
We are left to cast for ourselves
In the troubling waters of life.

As the morning light approaches,
The disciples are weary from the long night
Of tossing and turning.
A shadowing figure appears
Walking on the water,
“Is it a ghost”?
They cry out in fear!

Sometimes when everything is going wrong
It gets worst.
Nothing we do is right.
We feel frustrated and down.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them:
“Take heart, it is I, your friend, Jesus.
Do not be Afraid.”

Peter, the impetuous one, shouts
“If it is okay with you, let me come
To be with you on the waters.”
Jesus simply says: “Come.”

When the storms of life beat on us
And we see some glimmer of hope
Like Peter we seek a friend,
To be with in our moment of need.

Peter, forgetting all
But his desire to join his friend,
Jumps out of the boat,
Walks on the Water to him.
Suddenly he notices the wind and the Water
He begins to sink.

When we are really happy with ourselves
Being all we can be,
Pleased with friends and family
How time flies.
Suddenly we remember all our troubles
Notice all our ills
Our bubble bursts.
We sink back once more
Into our timely troubles.

Jesus reaches out his hand
Saves Peter from the sea and
Says, “Why did you doubt me,
Lose you trust in me?”

Jesus, our friend can
Once more
Pull us out of the sea
When we sink
When we doubt.
When the trouble waters surround us,
Our True Friend is always there.

Jesus and Peter enter the boat
All becomes calm
The wild wind ceases
The friends in awe say again:
“Truly, Friend, you are the Son of God.”


continue…

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Comments

kranthi — 02 February 2009, 00:53

Dear Bob
Your experiences in India during Pilgrimage of Peace , your photographs, your experimenting with Indian food cooking very interesting. Your growing green salads using organic manure in this summer is highly appreciated by me.

(:commentboxchrono:)

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