Category Archives: General

Musings from the Third Sunday in Corona Crisis

By Paul Magno

Our usual Sunday gathering at Jonah House was suspended in respect of the apprehensions about social gathering brought on by the great pestilence in recent weeks

So I made do with a solitary liturgy this am, consisting of penitence for transgressions one against another both personal and social, individual and institutional.  A hefty catalog of sins against the poor and powerless global majority, and against creation itself in service of greed and violence. All needing acknowledgement by offenders just for openers, then penance and then a drastic amending of our ways.  And for my own short-comings and foibles, anger, despair, thoughtlessness, and the hurts they inflict on people, I beg forgiveness from you my sisters and brothers. 

On to the readings of the day, especially the long Gospel of John about the blind man who Jesus gifts with sight after a lifetime of miserable living. Talk about no good deed going unpunished – behold the third degree the men of the church put this man through as he is adamant about saying a good word about Jesus, long after they’ve made it plain that doing so is beyond the pale. 

After some meditation on this a few prayers for the sick:

Our Friend John LaForge out in Wisconsin has a serious cancer diagnosis, let the healing hands of God be laid on him

My sister Patricia continues treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis. let the healing hands of God be laid on her

Any and all afflicted by the Corona virus whose health is harmed and life endangered, let the breath of God be poured out in love and care for your healing.

For our world, infested with debilitating and lethal injustices of our own perverse making, let it be on earth as it is in heaven, a  just and peaceful subversion of the inflicted social order. May it break in like a thief in the night. Let our hearts cry out like Job for an end to such unmerited suffering.

And the dead:

Our deceased sister Lin Romano was remembered in a Baltimore Sun obituary this week. Let us pray to be guided by the light of her life for others. Resting peaceably in God’s arms, I fancy her bemused by all of our Corona consternation. Lin Romano pray for us 

An inveterate peacemaker in Washington of my acquaintance, most recently known as Pat the Peacewalker, remembered by many as Paul Collins, passed on days ago. May the sign of Peace he carried so valiantly for many decades make its indelible mark on us and may God take him to heart as a child of the Peaceable Kin-dom.  

And those afflicted by the demonic:

Our Kings Bay Plowshares defendants,  enduring a long and excruciating wait for a sentencing date for a disarmament witness against Trident’s omnicidal weaponry two Aprils ago, are prolonged even more, thank-you Corona, as paralysis descends on the court. May the soothing hands of God gift them with the peace they have fought and suffered for over these years, and fortify them for the promised wrath of Caesar when sentencing day does come upon them. God hear our prayer

For the many who need our thoughts and prayers for sufferings of all kinds, we pray to God. 

Finally  we are promised food for the journey in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup of liberation. Elsewhere in John’s gospel he says, “I have told you these things , so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Amen. Let it be so.

We are blind too often, too much. 

May we see and say what is true, regardless.

Peace, Brothers and Sisters

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How Can I Keep From Singing

I woke up here in Baltimore this morning and knew it must be raining for a reason
Just a few minutes later a brief text from David Hoovler announced that Lin Romano had died this morning, at age 63 after a 16 month battle with cancer.
Hard not to cry, harder even to cry.
Lin had lived at Jonah House for about a year in the late 1980s, after her participation in the Epiphany Plowshares disarmament action at Willow Grove Naval Air Station in PA in January of 1987.
After four trials she was finally convicted and sentenced to two years in federal prison in Lexington KY.
For over a decade before that, she had lived and worked among the poorest people in Washington DC as a member of the Community for Creative Nonviolence.
Throughout the last three decades, she has remained “passionate about creating a just world,” through several jobs here in Baltimore, through her continued association with Jonah House, and with David, to whom she was married since 2005.
Joe Byrne and I had an opportunity to visit her at the Gilchrist Center, an inpatient hospice care facility in Towson, last week, and to be by her bedside for about an hour. Though her body was weak, she was aware of our presence and tried to sing along with the tunes Joe played on the dulcimer. She was able to smile and open her eyes a few times.
We wait on word from David about any memorial arrangements
To close, I’ll paraphrase just one of those songs
Her life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
We hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
We hear the music ringing;
She sounds an echo in our souls
How can we keep from singing?

Shared by Paul Magno for the Jonah House Community

Beloved Lin Romano

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Jonah House Pantry

Monday pick up from the Baltimore Food Bank volunteers ready to unload and pack pantry boxes for Tuesdays pantry.
Melissa and her daughter the dynamic duo always here to help on pantry days
Mom, I will sort this box for you!
Rainbow packing up and getting ready for Tuesday’s pantry
When we run out of pantry boxes we have to pack up emergency bags.
Joe on task!!!

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Gallery

Scenes from the sustainable garden – 2019

This gallery contains 10 photos.

headstone restoration 0

By Joe Byrne

I entitled this entry headstone restoration 0 because I wanted to mention two other efforts at headstone restoration, done last year.

One is the headstone of Raymond Porter. One day a family came into the cemetery looking for Porter’s headstone (he was the grandfather, or great-grandfather). Since it was summer, and we’d had a lot of rain, it was swampy in this section of the cemetery (Section H) and it hadn’t been mowed in a while. That is, any headstone in that section would be hard to find. The family didn’t find the Porter headstone, even though they had a picture from a genealogy web site showing it intact. (Note those seeking graves of relatives in St. Peter’s Cemetery: come in the winter, before the green stuff takes over, which makes parts of the cemetery inaccessible, and makes many gravestones hard to find).

After they left, I did some sleuthing. I found Raymond Porter’s gravestone! It was at the base of a maple tree, with the stone (and inscription) facing the trunk of the tree, surrounded by tall weeds (mugwort). I removed the weeds and turned the stone around so it could be read.

Like the other gravestones, one other step is needed: some nice, native, colorful plants around the headstone.

And now the first headstone at St. Peter’s I ever restored: that of Greta Storm. All I did was level the pediment and place the stone (which was a few fee away, lying flat on the ground), on top of it. I used no cement.

A few weeks after my simple restoration, a leaning locust tree fell upon the gravestone. The un-cemented stone didn’t budge! Pretty good for my first time out.

And the locust tree is still alive! Here is another angle of the headstone holding up the tree, now flowering.

So not only did I restore a headstone, without the use of cement, but I also helped save a tree!

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headstone restoration 2

By Joe Byrne

Flush with the success of my previous headstone restoration, I went ahead with round 2. I found a headstone in the same line as the others I had restored.

It was the headstone of Emma Carter:

First a quick note on how/why I choose a particular headstone for fixing. My first criteria is the legibility of the inscription. For many of the headstones–particularly those carved of soapstone, limestone, and marble–the inscription has long since been worn away by the elements. That is rarely the case with stones, like this one, made of granite. So granite stones are more likely to get my attention, in regards to restoration, than non-granite stones. In my mind, it doesn’t make sense to spend a couple hours and quite of bit of muscular energy to restore a stone that is blank!

In my previous installment, I showed how I accidentally found a buried headstone that, once unearthed, was remarkably intact (Joseph Digg’s headstone). Well, sometimes you find something underground which is an unpleasant surprise (and I don’t mean skeletons!). Such was the case with Emma Carter’s headstone.

In order to fix the headstone, I had to fix the pediment (the bottom block on which the headstone sits). I did a little digging and tried to use a crow bar. It wouldn’t budge. I dug some more, and then more. That’s when I discovered that underneath the pediment (which was about 2 and half feet tall) was a skirt of cement that went down into the ground another two feet.

Not all pediments have such a skirt. Having one makes it much harder to fix. I’m guessing that a hole was dug, cement was poured into it, and the pediment lowered into the pool of wet cement. If so, they lowered it crooked, so that the headstone had to be placed upon the pediment at an angle (and the ground shifted perhaps). Eventually and inevitably the headstone fell off.

I don’t know if the cement skirt was originally part of the grave. I haven’t dug up enough headstones to know if that’s common or rare. It might have been part of a previous restoration effort. If so, as in some cases, in the name of stability and longevity, the “restoration” made things worse. That is why I am loathe to use cement when I fix headstones. If I set them up straight, and they’re heavy enough, that should be enough. And if they get knocked down, I can pretty easily put them back up. Not so with stone with a crooked pediment set in cement.

That’s why I gave up on Emma Carter’s stone for the moment. I will have to come back and do a lot more digging. In the meantime, I set Emma Carter’s stone upright, nearby.

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deadstone restoration 1

By Joe Byrne

I decided, as a Lenten project, that I would restore some of the headstones at St. Peter’s Cemetery. The hardest part was deciding where to start. So many of the headstones here are in need of help.

Rather randomly I chose to start with headstones that are (I think) in the so-called “Potter’s Field” section of the cemetery, on the western perimeter.

This was the first stone I worked with. It’s the headstone of Rachel Moulder, who died and was buried in 1935. The work here consisted of moving and straightening the stone.

Then I attended to a stone nearby.

At first I thought it was just a pediment (the base of the headstone), without a headstone. But then I started digging…

Yes, I had to dig up Joseph Digg’s stone! The amazing thing here is that, even though the stone was buried for who-knows-how-long, the engraved inscription, and the carved designs, have not been worn away.

Here is the gravestone restored.

Here are the two stones together:

Though, in my mind, a grave-site is not restored until there are some flowering plants planted nearby. So I’ll have to come back, with flowers.

Next was the headstone of Charles Lee, also nearby. It was leaning forward at a 45 degree angle, and I suspected there was some important text, helpful in identifying the grave, buried in the ground.

Here is the restored headstone:

In some ways, the stone looked better before I “fixed” it. It’s dirtier now, with dirt continuing to obscure the text that was buried in the ground. But I figured a few rain storms and it would look a lot better. I should go back and take a picture of the headstone in a couple months and post it here.

Final note, the first two headstones had as the year of death 1936, and Charles Lee’s was 1937. So, at least in the “Potter’s Field,” it appears that people were grouped by the year of death.

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Imprisoned Liz McAlister on the Radio

This Martin Luther King Day (January 21, 2019), Tom Hall, a radio personality at WYPR in Baltimore, aired a story on Liz McAlister and the King’s Bay Plowshares action, which occurred on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, on April 4, 2018.

Since that date, Liz has been in jail in Georgia, where the King’s Bay Trident Sub base is located. The trial date has yet to be set, but it will likely be sometime this winter.

The segment includes a short interview with Liz from prison.

Here is the link:

http://www.wypr.org/post/mlks-legacy-pt-2-power-non-violent-protest

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snowy day at st. peter’s cemetery

Last week we had a bit of snow in the cemetery. It always makes for a picturesque scene. Here are some pics.

The first three pics were of headstones. This is a snow covered pile of branches. Eventually the branches will be put through a chipper for mulch. But right now it’s a lodge for small animals!

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Xavier University Visits Jonah House

Once again, a group from Xavier University graced us with a visit! They came for dinner on Wednesday, which was followed by a reflection session. Paul talked about the history of Jonah House and resistance to war and nuclear weapons, and the fact that community member and co-founder Liz McAlister remains in jail for her participation in the King’s Bay Plowshares action last April. Ausar and Naomi talked about the Jonah House Food Pantry and our partnership with Tubman House, in West Baltimore. And Joe talked about our work on the land in St. Peter’s Cemetery, including gardens, orchards, and forest, describing it as a work of mercy for the Earth.

The group returned on Thursday morning. Joe took them on a tour of the cemetery, after which Ausar took them to Tubman House, to visit some folks who live nearby and to lay mulch on the fruit trees at the urban garden that is attached to Tubman House.

They’ll be headed back to Cincinnati tomorrow. We look forward to their visit next year!

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