Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Peace, gardening, community

On Labor Day, we went to the Dorothy Day house in Portland. It was a breath of fresh air and I want to share a bit of our experience.

Dorothy Day was someone who was much like Mother Maria, whom I have written a bit about before. Dorothy Day was someone who stood for the poor and those who are swept aside in our society. The Dorothy Day house is a place where women are welcomed to a house of hospitality, women who are in transition from being homeless or in prison have a place to stay for a while. It's also a center for community, for people who feel strongly about peace and justice and good food and gardening and wholeness.

The house is run by a Catholic priest and a woman who is formerly Catholic, but now attends the Portland Mennonite Church. She started working with the Mennonite Central Committee doing peace work in El Salvador, and then began worshipping with them as well. We shared a delicious potluck dinner with them (vegetarian, even!) and enjoyed getting to know them a bit. Then they had their meeting, which we stayed for. They spoke of the work with the women they help care for, as well as the peace work they do, trying to help legislators understand the need to stop the killing in Iraq. They spoke of doing civil disobedience for their cause, because they feel strongly enough about it to risk being arrested. Hospitality and resistance, is what they are about. I felt I found the community we've been looking for. People who feel strongly about the things we feel strongly about.

A small thing to start with: they need people occasionally to stay at the house with the women who stay there, just to have a presence at the home. There are three people who live there full time but they sometimes have other needs and obligations to tend to. So, we are thinking about taking an evening now and then, when they need it, to go over and cook dinner and be there at the house. To chat when someone needs to chat, or just to be there. It sounds so homey, so comfortable, and like the community we've been seeking.

That's all until after (during?) our vacation. We're taking off bright and early on Friday morning! Have a great September, everyone.


annie said...

What a great place. Hope it works out for you to help there. Did the kids join you? I have always appreciated how my parents included my siblings and me in their community outreach and ministries. Ofcourse, not all are always appropriate for children.
Happy vacationing!

Elizabeth said...

Yep, we all went. I include my kids whenever possible, which is most of the time. The one big exception for me is volunteering to drive girls to the prison to visit their moms. My kids can't come into the prison!

But my one disappointment was that there weren't any other kids there on Monday night. There weren't any other couples there either, for that matter.

Jennifer said...

I think that's wonderful! Something that Hubby and I always talk about - becoming involved with and helping those less fortunate not just because it's the right thing to do but also because we want to instill that same value in our children. I've always said that instead of them spending Spring Break in Cancun with all their friends ours will be with us volunteering to build a home for the needy, or some clinic in Africa helping to feed small children.

I hope all goes well!