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Ardeth Platte Writes from Danbury Federal Prison


Ramblings and Reflections

Newsletter 17

December 2004


My dear friends,

God's act of hope and love birthed the Son, Jesus Christ, as Light into darkness, two thousand years ago. That same hope, love, and light is shining forth within us as we nourish these gifts daily. A blessed Advent and Christmas be yours for your journey into and through the New Year 2005.

From My Perspective
With hope we give our lives for a world without wars, weapons, and walls regardless of the consequences. With hope Rachel Corrie stood before the bulldozer to protect the homes, olive orchards and Palestinian people. With hope Plowshares people symbolically and nonviolently inspect, expose and disarm nuclear weapons/weapons of mass destruction. With hope Amy Goodman lifts the voices of the struggling and poorest people and releases the news untold. With hope Michael Moore unmasks the hidden facts and buried secrets to allow democracy to work. With hope Roy Bourgeois, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon and 16,000 people demonstrated again for the closure of the death-dealing training at the School of Assassins/WHISC Ft. Benning base. Douglas Roche, Anabel Dwyer, Susan Tyburski, Walter Gerash, Scott Poland, Cliff Bernard, lawyers and authors, etc. share hope as they pursue the upholding of law, implementing of treaties and conventions.

Kathy Kelly, Voices in the Wilderness, Peace Teams who share basic necessities, accompany the children and remain in the war zones display hope in the midst of terror. Kairos, Open Door Community, Catholic Worker Houses, Sanctuaries for CO's bestow hope to homeless, hungry, exiled and refugees. Our prayer communities in prison who hold each other up live hope in the face of an oppressive and punitive system that dehumanizes, knocks down, punishes and injures the spirit. With hope all of you who teach, preach, and witness non-violence send tidal waves of hope across the world. My Dominican and Jonah Communities risk hope in love.

Post-election Hope
My vision of hope became clear this morning as I walked the Danbury Prison track in the midst of a sun rising and painting the horizon below and the clouds above reds of every shade. I experienced the renewed fidelity of my sisters and brothers who call themselves justice and peace makers to walk the walk rather than count on politicians to do our work.

H eavenly vision of what God made the world to be
Oneness with all creation, brothers, sisters, family
People, ordinary folk in love, uniting and creating for peace
E nergy, enthusiasm, education for God's intended vision

From Letters and Books

Others speak of hope much better than I:

Cecile Roy from Japan – “ Hope is the memory of the future and is stronger than death.”

Rachel Kobasa – “I see hope when I see smiles on people's faces. Everyone looks happy and complete strangers smile at each other on the street.”

Clare Kobasa – “ In Greek mythology, when Pandora opened the box that let all the evils of the world out, the last thing left in     the box was hope. It is hope that allows us to continue on, even in the face of all the evil in the world. Hope is a promise that     there is always a chance for the future. Anything is possible, hope tells us that change can come. It is hope that pushes us to     work for this change because hope shows that we cannot give up and ignore the possibility of something better. Hope is an         intangible gift, impossible to categorize, because even trying to describe hope fails to acknowledge the strength and purpose it     provides when all else seems lost.”

  • Howard Zinn – “We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world…We need hope. An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness…If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of the world in a different direction.”

Joan Chittister – “In every struggle there is a hidden blessing. Hope and despair are not opposites. They are cut from the very same cloth, made from the very same material, shaped from the very same circumstances. Every life finds itself forced to choose one from the other, one day at a time, one circumstance after another. The sunflower, that plant which in shadow turns its head relentlessly toward the sun, is the patron saint of those in despair. When darkness descends on the sour, it is time, like the sunflower, to go looking for whatever good thing in life there is that can bring us comfort. Then we need music and hobbies and friends and fun and new thought – not immersion in the pain that is killing us. The worst thing is to dull rather than displace the pain with the kind of joy or comfort that makes us new. “Give light”, Erasmus wrote, “and the darkness will         disappear of itself.” from Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope

For More Hope – read Testimony: The Word Made Fresh by Daniel Berrigan, especially pp. 226-227 and The Nuclear Resister , PO Box 43383,Tucson AZ 85733 (order it and send a donation) Also re-read: Fighting the Lamb's War by Philip Berrigan

Your letters bring me so much hope.

Always grateful,

Ardeth Platte #10857-039
Federal Correctional Institution
33 ½ Pembroke Station
Danbury, CT 06811