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

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

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

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

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

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

Abundant Community

Scouts_readingThe following is the third post in a series by Kate Foran about exploring an alternative kindergarten education for her daughter Sylvie.

This picture was taken last November at a harvest gathering (note the bowls of squash soup) that I participated in with other children and parents. At the time, I was still wrestling with whether to enroll Sylvie in school or not, and the moment captured in the picture stands out for the way it tipped the balance toward “DIYing” her education instead. It was in some ways a typical preschool group story time (I think we were reading Curious George), but in other ways it was remarkable, because it was not a moment I organized. Instead, a child handed me the book and asked me to read it. And soon the other children crowded around, piling onto my lap and leaning on my shoulders. I was aware at the time of the great privilege of having the trust of these children, and it occurred to me that the spontaneous connection and even the physical closeness was not something that could easily occur in an institutional setting.   Sylvie was a bit ruffled at having to share her mom, but she was satisfied when I explained to her that I got to be a teacher to these other kids the way that their parents got to be a teacher to her. Continue reading