Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Overnight with Jim and Nancy Forest in Alkmaar, The Netherlands

The genius and driving force behind the Catholic Worker was, of course, the indomitable Dorothy Day. Jim Forest first met Dorothy when he was a young man of 21. His experiences with Dorothy are well known. He is currently revising his biography of her, Love is the Measure. It is due out next year.

Imagine though my incredible good fortune. Here is a man who has not only met, but worked side by side with Dorothy, Thomas Merron, Thich Nhat Hanh and more. Yet, Jim is in no way pridefull. In fact visiting him and his lovely wife, Nancy, is pure joy.

Dorothy Day's approach, as Jim shared with me on one of many walks, can be sumed up simply: "live generously, loving even your enemies. That means do not shoot them!"

An simple example of generosity: Nancy & Jim showed me a small shirt for their grand daughter that they had just printed with I'd rather be reading Dostoyevesky. I commented that I want to take a copy of the famous picture, Christ of the Breadlines by Fritz Eichenberg, to have it imprinted on a T-shirt. Next thing I knew, Jim went upstairs & got me a full size book of that and many others by Eichenberg saying simply, "It's yours."

Jim & Nancy live in an incredibly beautiful and fascinating Dutch city that feels much more like a small Dutch town, Alkmaar. Canals of all sizes run around and through it. Houses date back centuries. Next door to Jim & Nancy is the oldest house in Alkmaar, built in 1560. I waited under its natural outcropping for a downpour to stop! I will be sending out a set of pictures from Alkmaar one I learn how to down & upload them.

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.