The Wrong Question

26411493494_e3415d8984_c
By Deb Watson, flickr, cc

By Kate Foran

“The pandemic has got me thinking a great deal about how the vulnerability our species is experiencing could be an opening to imagining the threat and constriction that is the reality for so many other species and often at our hand. What about the grief in the chestnut blight or salamander epidemics?”
– Robin Wall Kimmerer

At the height of the viral bloom, our travel circumscribed,
we wander with our girls to the patches of woods that still remain
between the housing tracts and industrial parks of our neighborhood.
In the scrubby, choked lot behind the schoolyard where children never go
even when school is in session, the path winds and we stop short

as the leaf litter gives way to green-gold

spring ephemerals, trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit preaching Continue reading “The Wrong Question”

Winter’s Harshness

ice-formationsIn January, over twenty women gathered for a Word and World weekend of rest and writing using winter as their guide and teacher. This is the first reflection offered which also gives some writing prompts. May it be company in these longer winter days.

By Kate Foran

 

Ceremony

I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories
let the stories be confused or forgotten.
They would like that
They would be happy
Because we would be defenseless then.
He rubbed his belly.
I keep them here
[he said]
Here, put your hand on it
See, it is moving.
There is life here
for the people.
And in the belly of this story
the rituals and the ceremony
are still growing.

Continue reading “Winter’s Harshness”

Bluetooth

10tb-blueteeth1-articlelarge
Photo of nun’s teeth from the New York Times

By Kate Foran

Cruising through the latter days
of Western Civilization in my forest
green Corolla under a 12 year
ultimatum on climate catastrophe
while my phone talks to my car
so I can listen to the news like this
tidbit about an eleventh-century nun
whose dental plaque was a fossil
record of all she consumed,
starch residue and flower pollen,
wool fiber and insect parts,
milk proteins and flecks of precious
lapis lazuli, but wait, how did that get there? Continue reading “Bluetooth”

In Winter

winter.jpgBy Kate Foran
With an invitation to Word and World’s Heart and Hearth: A Writing Retreat for Women.

The nights are getting chillier and the ground is covered in frost by morning.

On days like this, even getting out of from under the warm covers to start the day requires deliberate intention. There’s a choice to be made. You have to ready yourself. Same with stepping outside in the cold—you have to attend to the transition between the cozy heat inside and the bite of cold on the other side of the door. One by one, the layers pile on. Continue reading “In Winter”

Connoisseur

indexBy Kate Foran

For Steve

Your appetite has a reputation of its own. Dinner hosts glow as you ask for seconds and thirds and they marvel that a person of your moderate size can put so much away. You must have several hollow limbs, they wonder, and you offer your compliments to the chef, tasting everything again. Before you go to a party you “pre-eat,” you say, so as not to embarrass yourself. You remember your life as a series of meals—the loaf of bread Mrs. DiMartino baked you for your seventh birthday, the pasta your grandmother made and draped over chairs and towel racks in the kitchen, the collards and fried chicken you ate with gusto, to the delight of the local cook in Memphis. You never encountered a meal you didn’t like. Continue reading “Connoisseur”

Kings Bay Plowshares- a poem

cards.jpgBy Kate Foran

Dissent without civil disobedience is consent. Philip Berrigan

Our friend Mark sits in a jail cell again
and I stand in the lunch hour line
under fluorescent lights
at the post office with my toddler
to buy a stack of pre-stamped postcards,
the only kind acceptable to mail,
written only in blue or black ink,
no stickers, glue, glitter, or pictures,
no letters or packages. Continue reading “Kings Bay Plowshares- a poem”

Veteran for Peace

indexBy Kate Foran

For my father at the start of the second Iraq War, 2003

You enlisted thinking
you were protecting something,
thinking maybe even
you were protecting me
when I was just a “twinkle in your eye”
and the crossfire lit the night
and missed you.
You did not know then
that you’d want to protect me
not from some enemy
but from the question,
Did you kill anyone, Dad? Continue reading “Veteran for Peace”

Beyond National Allegiances

kateDay 9 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” Speech.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men—for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?
—————–
By Kate Foran (photo above), formed by the nonviolent resistance and radical hospitality of the Catholic Worker movement, and inspired and challenged by other communities of love & struggle (including the Beloved Community Center in North Carolina) whose faith drives their work for social transformation.

Here is King the prophet (honored abroad and scorned by many at home), explaining, in concentric circles of accountability, why he feels compelled to speak out against the Vietnam war. After appealing to his commitment to America’s vision, he broadens his argument beyond national boundaries. Then he appeals to his Gospel obligation. Two questions for Lenten devotion arise for me here: In the current climate of “America First” and “build-a-wall” rhetoric, what does it mean to “go beyond national allegiances?” And further, in King’s surprising turn of phrase, how do I not only “not threaten [my enemy] with death,” (then: the communist; now: the terrorist, the immigrant, the refugee, whoever is other…) but how do I “share my life with them?” Continue reading “Beyond National Allegiances”

Cider Blessing

cider press.jpgWritten by Kate Foran as a wedding blessing this fall.

On this day you invite your beloveds to the feast,
provide meat and drink to do justice to the harvest.
As you attended to every detail of this celebration,
you had a vision of serving the season’s cider
pressed and unfiltered
in the old way–beginning to bubble,
hospitable to the wild yeasts–
the bouquets of microflora that are our ancestors and guests,
making life from decay, enacting everyday Cana miracles.
Generations of households have observed
the domestic mystery of cider, preserving the yield of the trees
in a draught more common and reliable than water. Continue reading “Cider Blessing”

Circles of Support

Sylvie&RichardBy Kate Foran. The following is the fourth post in a series by Kate Foran  exploring an alternative kindergarten education for her daughter Sylvie.

Part of my inspiration for pursuing an alternative education for my five-year-old daughter Sylvie has been the work of Communitas, a Connecticut-based organization focused on building inclusive community, particularly for people with disabilities.   Since the 1980s Communitas has pioneered the model of “circles of support” which focus on the dreams and capacities of people with disabilities to enhance their lives and their communities. This model of organizing came out of a time when people with disabilities were often shut away in institutions, and were seen as a collection of needs and problems rather than individuals with gifts and desires for their own lives. The idea was deceptively simple: the focus person gathers together people who will help identify and enact a vision for a full and satisfying life. Through this model, Communitas has helped people start housing co-ops, find employment, publish books, and make art. With circles of support people have been able to do everything from coordinate caregivers to meet their basic needs so that they might live more independently, to travel the country on speaking tours. Continue reading “Circles of Support”