Humility

humility is not not-loving yourself.

 

its not knowing, its knowing by unknowing

 

to breath paradox

 

it’s to love your unique self, and to shed your ego to the collective self, for a moment

 

to fade into the un-seeable stuff of the infinite, the forever moving dust that shapes all.

 

to break and cave into God

 

by Joe Kruse

Honey Wheat Bread

Honey Wheat Bread

A recipe from Emily Duma

Baking bread (and breaking bread) is one of the most sensory (and spiritual) experiences for me.  I can pour in life in the yeast, and work out anger in the kneeding.  With sturdy oats and a hint of sweetness, making this fantastic bread recipe has gotten me through many meditations on life, and eating it in community has made the process whole. It’s delightfully simple, (almost foolproof) and comes from a restaurant in Wisconsin! Doesn’t get much better. Enjoy!

Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients, knead for about seven minutes or until dough is no longer wet but smooth. Let bread rise until doubled in size (around 45 minutes) punch down and shape into loaves. Let bread double in size again (for around another 45 minutes). Bake (for 35-45 mins) until crusty and brown on top.

“Love doesn’t sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread.”

-Ursela K LeGuin

Occupy Our Hearts

Occupy Our Hearts

By Joe Kruse

            My heart kicked hard at my ribs as we came to a stop.  Five hundred strong had marched through downtown, down Nicollet Ave., and stopped in front of Wells Fargo ‘s headquarters.  We engulfed the intersection.  The police scrambled to divert traffic and surround the protestors.  We marched in a circle for a while until word shot through the group to sit down.  Like a wave, the mass of people rolled to the concrete.  We planted, we occupied.

This was the first Occupy Minneapolis march I had been to.  It was exhilarating and energizing.  In Occupy, I kind of felt like my generation had found its movement, its “moment” in American history. Despite the movement’s problematic use of the word “occupy” without a sustained discussion about the original occupying and colonization of Minneapolis and the rest of America from indigenous people, I generally supported the Occupy movement and what its participants were saying and doing.  However, one point of reference I would like to bring to the Occupy discussion is concerning the ideas of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement.

A beautiful aspect of the Catholic Worker Movement is its emphasis on an inner awakening, a personal conversion toward unconditional love.  In her book Loaves and Fishes, Dorothy Day writes, “The greatest challenge of the day is: How to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each of us?”  Day’s “revolution” was one that started in our souls.  The systems critiqued from many political and religious perspectives, the systems that feed off of inequality, suffering, hate, and greed are built on our individual choices and programming.  Perhaps capitalism and inequality exist because I find it so hard to give without getting back.  Perhaps the American war machine runs because the hearts of Americans are at war with those they don’t understand.  Can I condone our government’s refusing to disarm its  nuclear weapons for its “homeland security”, while I struggle to keep our back door unlocked out of an often unconscious, deep-seated fear of my neighbors?  Our only hope in dismantling the bigger systems we see as broken is to first dismantle and recreate ourselves, to trust and love radically.  Then the foundations of bigger systems of hate, mistrust, and greed will grow weak.

I encourage and support Occupy.  However, I challenge both myself and others interested in changing our social and economic systems, to not only work against those systems, but to also take a focused look inward.  I continue to try to understand that to rid our society of capitalism, I must first work on the greed and self-entitlement I feel in myself.  Deep in us, beneath the anxiety and anger that often mottles our hearts, is a God-shaped soul capable of an immense love.  I am not asking that we dwell too long on our individual faults, only suggesting that what really scares the powerful is a revolution that seeks not to gain power, but to evaporate the desire for power completely.

Free CeCe

Free CeCe

By Emily Duma

         On June 5th, 2011, a young African American trans woman named CeCe McDonald was walking to the grocery store with friends (all young, African American and queer or allied.)  As they passed a local bar, a group of older white people standing outside starting yelling racist and transphobic slurs at them without provocation. When Cece told them she would not tolerate hate speech, one of the woman smashed her glass into CeCe’s face, cutting her cheek all the way through and lacerating her salivary gland.  A fight ensued, during which one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz, was fatally stabbed.  CeCe was the only one charged in the incident.  Although acting only in self defense, Cece has now been falsely accused of murder.

I could go on and on about the injustices CeCe faced while in the system – how she was not given proper medical attention, so her cheek swelled up to the size of a golfball, how she was placed in solitary confinement for an extended amount of time (widely considered to be a form of torture) and how the system completely disregarded her gender identity and held her in a men’s prison.  I could spout off facts about the disproportional amount of violence faced by transgendered individuals in our society (the murder rate is 10 times higher for transgender people than cis-gendered, and a study conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 26 percent of transgender folks had experienced physical assault due to their gender identity, and over half had experienced serious discrimination) particularly transgendered individuals of color, and rant and rave about how if CeCe had been a cis-gendered white woman she would easily have been credited with self defense and likely never charged in the first place. If you want to learn more about any and all of these things, please check out www.supportcece.wordpress.com.  However, what I want to write about is the role of community in the case, and how we can and must be in community with our brothers and sisters behind bars if we have any intention of achieving collective liberation.

Since moving to Minneapolis, CeCe has surrounded me. I learned about her in passing from friends and on facebook, and was reminded of her daily as I biked past one of the “free cece!” murals that sprouted up all over town.  This case has been present in the minds of many due to the remarkable work of the Free CeCe support committee, who have worked tirelessly over the past 11 months to care for CeCe, through letter writing, awareness, and trial support.  They circulated a country-wide petition to drop the charges that garnered 18,000+ signatures, and, when it was clear that CeCe would be tried by a jury, they organized community engagement, a press core, and packed the court room.  It was at this point that we Rye House-rs got involved.  We attended community meetings and brought lunch to those sitting in solidarity in the courtroom. After we found out the CeCe had accepted a plea deal for a charge of second degree manslaughter (understandable in that now she would be sentenced to just 48 months in prison in comparison to 80 years she was originally charged, but still tragic, since any amount of time served will be penalty for a crime CeCe didn’t commit) we were part of a solidarity noise demo outside of the prison in which we yelled, chanted and danced so the prisoners would know we had not forgotten them. Apparently, CeCe could hear us, and I could see other prisoners responding and (hopefully) feeling our love.

I wish that every prisoner in the system today had a support committee like CeCe.  As I learn more and more about the sustaining power of community, I see how my housemates’ love, accountability and belief in me allows me to grow in ways I never thought possible.  In our criminal justice system, we somehow expect that people, many of whom have been marginalized by our society their entire lives will be transformed into “productive” citizens by the exact opposite of this – shame, violence and isolation.  Prisons cost us $60 billion dollars a year and are based in a criminal justice system that is racist, classist and sexist. It does not heal people, but rather inflicts trauma on their bodies and their minds. Prisoners are exploited – companies can contract with prisons to use prison labor, paying inmates just 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. And above all, the incarceration of millions has done very little to deter future crime or promote safety.  People are still afraid of young black men in hoodies.  Families are still torn apart by violence.

Maybe someday I’ll write a newsletter article about prison abolition.  For now, I just want to highlight the story of one individual so that we can turn the lens inward, look deeply at our society and ourselves, and start to question what it means to stand in solidarity with CeCe and her 2.3 million imprisoned brethren here in the United States.  By demanding justice and accountability in the way we charge people with crimes, we can influence the way oppression and privilege play out in our criminal justice system.  We can support prison reform movements that call for fairer practices, prison alternatives, and community accountability.  We can stretch ourselves in terms of what it means to feel safe, and rely on love and trust rather than fear. And, we can write a letter to CeCe. Or to any other prisoner to learn more about their story and share our mutual humanity.

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth.  I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

-Eugene V Debs

Doubt

Doubt

By Ruth Cole

            Thomas Merton says that without doubt we do not truly have faith. I think it would be a lot easier if he were wrong. Faith has had the largest influence of my life decisions for the past few years. I often feel so reliant on faith that any amount of doubt is always unwelcome and often unsettling.             This March I took a trip to Oklahoma and joined the McFarlin United Methodist youth group on a mission trip to South Texas doing home repair. A trip I have attended for the past 7 years. I was with dear friends, a church community I had been an active member of.  I was with people who knew me and who I knew in a very comforting environment. I was in such familiar territory. A territory I knew as home. A territory I left behind this fall in pursuit of this life of community and hospitality.

On my bus ride back to Minneapolis, my heart was flooded with doubt. My brain was bombarded with all the wonderfulness of a life that I had left behind. And now I was on my way to my home with a new hospitality guest, with a week full of dinner guests, with a house meeting that night, and work in the morning. It seemed as though this life I was coming back to was going to keep on moving whether or not I was ready or able to be present to it in all of it’s motion.

I felt doubt. Doubt in moving here, doubt in choosing to live in this radical way of life that feels very different than the life I lived previously, doubt in my calling, doubt in my relationship to God, and doubt in who I am and am meant to be. It was paralyzing.

I have been spending some time talking, sharing, and praying about this doubt and what to do with it. And so far this is what I have found; if we do not question and explore we might not venture into an even deeper place in faith. If we stay complacent and consistent in a pattern of repetition and reliable, comfortable structure we will most certainly never find the earth shaking truths that bring transformative light. I know that I have felt lost, so very lost, along this journey. I also know that God loves me and has created me in more love than I am able to imagine. And that God is the God that will continue to fill my life with challenge and growth. It is my continuous responsibility to accept that love, trust that love, and strive forward searching, enduring, accepting, barring, and embracing that love. I know it will hurt, it will come with fear and darkness, and so much doubt. And I have faith that this love of God, this overwhelming agape love will hold the truth and continue to create a life of hope for me, and for the world I see.

Faith without doubt would be worlds easier, and Easter without the cross would be too. But with one comes the other. In this recent time of doubt and even in other times of great darkness and sorrow, feeling the hugeness and endlessness of God’s love allows light to illuminate even in the darkest of places. My faith comes from that light. And while I never truly feel gratitude for the darkness, it sure makes the light a whole lot brighter.

A Beautiful Agony

A Beautiful Agony

By Seth Graham

            This past weekend, in the middle of April, we started to prepare the garden beds for our many varieties of plants.  It was planned at the beginning of the week that we would work on that Saturday to double dig the beds.  We have 500 square feet of gardens planned for growing our food this season.  After this weekend we now have 2 of our 5 beds double dug and ready for planting.

Saturday morning we went to pick up compost for the top of the beds.  These beds are brand new so the soil isn’t the best quality at this point.  The first step of the process was to remove the sod from the top of the ground.  Not long after starting that process it began to drizzle.  That was the expected forecast for the day, but we needed to start anyway.  There was no option.  It took quite a while to remove all of the grass because we wanted all of the dirt that was clinging to the roots along with all of the slimy earthworms within that dirt.  We were prepared for a long day.

To many people, the idea of toiling in the dirt and mud on a rainy day to prepare a garden bed is not too appealing.  Even though it was only 50 degrees and rainy there was something very satisfying and rewarding from this work.  While I was on my knees and my hands were turning the color of black earth I thought, though very tiring and messy, this is a very special experience.  Everyone should have to experience the work of growing their own food straight from the earth.  It makes us feel connected to something bigger.  We have lost touch with the earth and what it means to depend on it.  That crucial dependency and mystical relationship has been lost while humans turn to industrialization and technology for comfort.  People are so disconnected from nature.  We don’t see the importance of that connection between nature and humans.  In many religions, creation stories, and even science there is the belief that we come from the earth (we are made of it).  My generation has lost this wisdom.  In the mundane moments of digging up a garden bed I realized the importance of that lost relationship and that it must be redeemed.  The hope is that the lifestyle we have chosen here at the Rye House will help us better understand the disconnects and consequences that are tied to the way our generation treats the earth and its natural resources.  It is our prayer and desire to find new ways of being sustainable while also looking at past peoples and cultures that were more respectful and responsible in their consumption.

This beautiful agony of working the ground is also comparable to community life and human relationships.  We have found in the first months of our community that it is very messy and complicated.  All of us are so very different.  We have our own ways of doing things, behaviors we have been taught, and now we have to figure out how to live together and share everything.  It can be a real struggle, like digging into the earth and continuously hitting rock after rock.  But you must keep moving on to the next rock.  We know more conflicts will arise, but we are able to see through the crap to glimpses of hope that we are doing the right thing.   We know that what we are doing is and will continue to bear good fruit.  It is the same end-goal the garden will have this summer once the plants are rooted and healthy.  It may take a lot of work to get there, but the reward will far outweigh the agony.

An Update from The Rye House

An Update from The Rye House

By Ruth Cole

            It is always a challenge for me to give an update when asked how the house is going, because everyday is new. Each day brings new challenges, new joys, new dinner guests, new meeting topics, new aspects of hospitality to discern over, new prayer requests, new responses to give thanks, new reminders of how much work there is to be done, new affirmations of faith, new reasons to continue in this life. With each day so full of “new” it often feels as if that is the routine. A routine that does not get old, but makes it hard to explain “what is new”. But I will do my best!

Since our last newsletter (Jan/Feb) we have been busy. Just last weekend Joe, Emily, and Seth prepared 2 of our 7 beds for the seedlings Joe has been nursing all winter. Our chicken numbers have increased from the original 4 now egg laying hens to a current 7 hens.  We have truly enjoyed the outdoors with our daily biking to and from jobs, playing frisbee in the park, and seeing the crowd grow at the Amen Corner meals.

Since mid March we have had Stay-C Kent staying with us. It has been wonderful to have Stay-C as we travel through this journey of hospitality together. He is a talented man with a vibrant soul and big heart. He has added some wonderful humor to our dinner table, served many tasty meals, and has a grateful spirit. Hospitality is a wonderful and wild ride and we are glad to be on it with Stay-C.

Being a house of hospitality, we have been delighted with some wonderful visitors. A Catholic Worker from New Orleans and her college friend from Portland stopped by for a few days on a road trip. We have also been abundantly blessed by having some of our dearest friends and beloved family members come up for a visit. The month of May brought the famous yearly MayDay Parade and fair. Emily was one of the collaborators in the food justice aspect of the 2012 Transition Town themed event. It was an artful way to advocate aspects of sustainable living and a variety of progressive movements that are taking place in Minneapolis.

In these past few months we seem to becoming more “official” as well. In addition to our house email account we now have a website of our own (theryehouse.org) and are on Facebook.  As a community we have been actively discerning over how to file with the state. We have decided to incorporate as a non-profit (not a 5O1C3) as this option meets our beliefs and missions most fully.

So that is “what’s new” for the Rye House as of now. Send us an email, check out the website, “like” us on Facebook, and if you are in town please come by!

Many of you have given to us in forms of money, toiletries, household items, food, tools, and much more. I am so thankful of those tangible forms of love and support. All gifts, especially those of prayer, written and verbal affirmations, and messages of support affirm this life and all of our efforts. Thank you.