Quixote's EpistleThese are the main articles from our quarterly epistle.
The photos and text are by my daughter Claudia. In September, she and I truck-camped the Tucson–to–Pennsylvania route that Doug (my late husband, her father) and I took on our bicycles 40 years ago. Both trips were great fun, and this time I learned that the Quixote was always a part of our lives.
We were on the road across New Mexico, just before noon, when we saw an army of giants amassing on the horizon.
They marched upon us, coming closer…
The battle was brief, but Quixote’s philosophical arguments, sharp wit and pointed sarcasm brought the Enchanter to his knees.
With their massive leader vanquished, the army scattered
And virtue triumphed once again!
Quixote’s Garage opened 15 years ago the day after Christmas this year. It’s been a great ride for me and I hope for most of the people who have interacted with the Garage in all those years.
Many of you have supported us in a variety of ways – donating money and stuff, volunteering, visiting, taking whatever gifts we had available, and just being nice.
As a gift to all of you, Melcher Printing, who has printed the epistle for free from the beginning (THANK YOU), will bind all of the epistles together into a book. If you want one, please let me know. Call 7712637 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifteen years means change, too. I have decided to close two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays. Still open 8:30-2 all of the other days, including weekends and holiday Mondays.
Also, Quixote’s chaplain, the Rev. Emilie Finn, will no longer be celebrating Mass here each month, but she will visit often (she says). She is called to do other things, but her heart is here. If you want to stay in touch, her email is email@example.com.
Once, from a long time passing, a young man of good cheer and wonder was traveling on life’s road. His life was new and he thought his future would be full of light and good things.
Along his way, he found many things he thought made him happy and he wanted to keep them with him always. They seemed so bright!
So he kept them in his heart like a sack he carried on his shoulders.
That sack was light and easy to carry because the people were happy to see him with it as they all had one, too. He fit in with the “in”. They were also young, living was free, no one ever worried about dues to pay.
He was not a bad man or evil, but a kind soul who found laughter easily.
As time passed and the years were stored he kept adding more things into his sack, which was once so full of light. He added a few things that didn’t shine so bright.
Soon, before he knew it, the things he kept with him began to get darker and darker; his once bright sack of light tarnished and lost its luster and faded to gray.
Still, he kept these things with him even as they became heavier and harder to bear.
He could not let them go, nor would he leave them, though they brought him only sadness.
The sack finally became too much and overwhelmed him so much he stopped on his bright road, and when he looked into his sack he found only sorrow, despair, and hopelessness. This once truly happy soul found himself stranded with a burden he could no longer carry. He hated his life and thought he was forever destined to live a life of torment.
There was no more music, nothing was of wonder. Nothing was bright, as it once was. He lost all hope of ever being on a shining road again. He did not believe in himself.
But on his travels, he had met a few people who did believe in him, for they saw a man who had promise, though somewhat misplaced. Through their encouragement and best wishes, he began to slowly see that bright road again and step by step he made it back!
He no longer has that sack he used to carry for he left on another highway. He is now finding peace. There is for him a new way. He is happy again!
There with the grace of God go I.
– Mikey Mike
Hello, my name is Rook and I’ve got a story for you.
I was born in 1982 in South Philadelphia to a large Italian family. I grew up fast, helping my father hang drywall for the union.
I started working steady when I was 13 and moved out at 16 years old. I graduated in the top 20 percent of my class and was soon recruited by the US Army.
I was stationed at Ft. Benning. After that, 18 months in Korea. Then it was two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Colombia where I was shot in the knee.
After a lengthy recovery, I went on one last tour to Afghanistan where I was injured again by a mortar. I also found the love of my life: a female soldier named Jenn.
After our deployment, we left the Army and decided to use our degrees to become helicopter pilots. After two semesters the VA stopped paying our benefits.
So, here I sit.
Thank you for listening.
And thank you for supporting this place where he can be heard. – Kris
In January 2003 I was 26, yet I seemed to be going through a troubled adolescence that would never end. Down on my luck and homeless in Tallahassee, FL, one evening I was standing in line to receive a meal and was talking about life with an artist friend of mine. I made some point about the futility of existence and a voice behind me intoned, “You should read The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky.”As most people in that line weren’t exactly literary-minded, this statement came as a mild shock. I turned around and saw a lanky man in his late 50s in a floppy boonie hat carrying nothing but an empty metal pail. A bright smile beamed on his weather-beaten face. My first impression of Mike White was that he was either crazy, a holy saint, or some combination of the two.
We began to talk about religion and self-sacrifice and soon became inseparable companions. Mike had patterned his life after Jesus and St. Francis: He had nothing, wanted nothing, never complained, and gave everything. I soon learned he had devoted a great deal of energy to something called the Catholic Worker Movement, and he loved to tell stories about Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and others he had know in New York City. His vision of the Church was one of the poor and oppressed living in harmony and dignity together with Jesus Christ as high priest. For what he called the “slow church” of wealth and complacency he had only a gentle mockery: He refused to go to the local cathedral or avail himself of their services. When we went to church he insisted on going out of our way to a church that served a Hispanic congregation of mostly agricultural workers. His solidarity with the poor permanently changed my outlook on faith and society.
Mike told me a little about his life. He came from a Pensacola family who had made a fortune tailoring uniforms for the naval base. He had wanted to attend Loyola University in New Orleans, but his father wouldn’t pay for it so he attended the University of Florida instead. When he was about 30, in 1974, he inherited $30,000 and used it to drive around the country doing good deeds and helping the needy. Soon he was homeless, and at that point he formally decided to adopt the mendicant lifestyle. He had two brothers who shunned him for the most part, but would occasionally give him a helping hand. One was a lawyer and the other was a professor of architecture, both in Tallahassee.
Just as mysteriously as he had appeared in my life, one day I saw Mike no more; he had given no warning he was going to depart. The seed, however, was planted. I made arrangements to visit the original Catholic Worker in New York City and the Peter Maurin Farm upstate in Marlboro. When I arrived in July, all the old-timers remembered Mike well. He showed up every morning to help serve breakfast and chat with the clients, but he never accepted any offers of shelter, even in the coldest weather. They said he lived in a cardboard box in the alley and were afraid he would freeze to death.
How someone could be so dedicated to a solitary life of service to his God and so thoroughly empty himself of ego staggered my mind. I then realized why he had carried around that empty pail. The last time I ever saw Mike White was a complete coincidence. In 2010 I was living in Pensacola, and one day driving down Scenic Highway into downtown I saw the unmistakable lanky figure in the boonie hat waiting to cross the street. I did a double take, but the traffic was too heavy to stop and turn around.
May the Lord bless that stubborn man of the people, wherever he may be.
– Brian McNeil
and I do not
That there will be a reason for all of this
That someone’s grandchildren will be alive to care
how someone their grandmother’s age
remained strong in their silence
refused anger and hatred
painted beautiful pictures
believed there was a reason to keep going
and I do not
That in fifty years the world will still be green enough to keep living in
That mother nature will take her smoking, awesome revenge
and then carry on
in her slow, unplanned but perfectly organized way
That in spite of all our
and giving less than a shit
She will come through with flying colors:
Replant the parking lots and replace our outdated species
(along with the thousands now extinct)
with creatures stronger, more supple, sinewy and pure.
Creatures stupid enough not to ruin that small patch of paradise we left
as we thrashed and connived our shambling way to extinction
that tiny patch of flowers and those three species of trees
that one bit of ocean too deep for us to bother polluting
as we grew so huge that there was nothing left to consume
but our own hands and feet
I believe in the creatures of the future
tiny and slow as sloths
who will require next to nothing but a view
a single leaf or blade of grass
to keep them happy.
They will sit still and let the fragments grow let
a weed become a jungle
But then, when that straggling, spindly jungle becomes strong and wild,
fruits large and protein plentiful
When the rain again comes down clean enough not to kill too young
and life reclaims her hungry birthright of passion
and produces new creatures
large, quick and abundant
Who will stop them?
Who will force them not to eat every single leaf
Not to slash and burn and kill?
Not the little quiet ones
Not the ones made only to survive
– Claudia Finn