Seeds from Jail

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Mobile by Deb Hansen

Written by Mark Colville from jail. Serving time for the Kings Bay Plowshares

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.      – – Mark 4:26-34

There’s a consolation that flows from this parable, “the seed grows of itself,” that I’d not found before.

Day to day life here is dominated by the experience and the effects of scattering. The collective that makes up this cellblock – any cellblock – is just about as far from an intentional community as could be imagined. Everyone here has been torn up by the roots, violently and unwillingly, from his community of choice. We’ve been cast together, literally on top of one another, haphazardly. The only intentionality apparent in how we’ve been assembled by the jailer (the farmer?) is in the separating of friends and co-defendants. It might be argued, or even assumed, that the randomness is specifically intended to prevent the possibility of healthy community living. For the past 45 years, no nation has invested itself in the prison industry with the vengeance of the United States. Not only does the per capita size of our prison population dwarf those of other countries, but we have developed the incarceration project into a finely tuned experiment in anti-community. The prison staff here, typical of thousands nationwide, are highly trained in managing our dysfunction, but completely unequipped to deal with anything substantive within these walls that might resemble unity, mutual empowerment, or even rehabilitation. They are so skilled at anticipating and responding to our violence that the promotion of an agenda that fosters it is a foregone conclusion. And yet, irrepressibly, community happens. The Rastafarian plays chess with the Aryan Brotherhood guy. The violent misogynist and the peace activist read scripture together, praying from the heart. The Mexican awaiting deportation draws an incredible orchid in blue pen on a postcard for the gringo to send home to his wife, and politely refuses anything in return. Food changes hands at meals; one homesick guy gives his place in line at the phone to another; the old man held here for over a year without bail rejoices with the twenty-something who expects to get to a halfway house this week.

We are seeds, scattered. Nothing good is supposed to grow here – that’s against policy. When it happens – and wherever they’ve tossed me, it always happens – they inevitably dig it up and scatter it again. And we sleep and rise, night and day, and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, they know not how.

There’s a sign that keeps appearing at immigrant’s rights marches back in New Haven. I think I saw it first with the families of the disappeared students in Mexico: “They thought they buried us. They didn’t know that we were seeds.”

To learn more about the Kings Bay Plowshares https://www.kingsbayplowshares7.org/

 

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

Prayer from Prison

marthaReflection by Martha Hennessy
Camden County Jail, Woodbine, Georgia Jail
Kings Bay Plowshares

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against the Lord’s anointed one. (Acts 4: 23-26)

We walked in the dark, stars overhead, with Orion at our shoulder and the waning moon rising late. Praise to you Dear God, for this gift of Eden. There were fire flies and croaking frogs to keep us company. And to think the logic of Trident is the obliteration of Creation. What did God whisper to my ancestors and then to me? Swords into Plowshares! We don’t mean to make everyone furious, but why turn our blood and hammers into spray paint and bolt cutters?* Why continue to set the desecrated altar to the false idols of war? We walked onto a military base that harbors the ultimate destruction, and we prayed for the power of a message, of a witness that could reach many ears; conversion of free will towards life- giving work and away from death dealing false constructs.

We strung up crime scene tape over the model missiles and over the door to the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic (SWFLANT), a place where war plans promise to take all we love. We wish to indict this war machine for what it is: immoral, illegal, and monstrous. Our foolish plans desire to see a world in which the suffering is lessened, our leaders begin to know what it means if they pull the nuclear trigger. Our action is an invitation to all for a change of heart that will bring us to true revolution.

*Editor’s note: the charging documents and the Magistrate referred to their possession of bolt cutters and spray paint, but ignored mention of the symbols of blood and hammers, which were used by the seven in their symbolic action.

How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma Is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?

H14_Ploughshare-activist-arrest-on-US-submarine-base3By Frida Berrigan. Re-posted from truth-out.org.

“Our grandma is in jail,” Madeline tells a woman wrestling a shopping cart at Target.

“She went over a war fence and tried to make peace,” Seamus adds helpfully. “They arrested her, and she is in jail now.”

“Where?” the woman asks, looking from them to me in disbelief and maybe pity.

“We don’t remember,” the kids say, suddenly done with their story and ready to make passionate pleas for the colorful items in the dollar section over the woman’s shoulder. Continue reading