I’ve spent the last week or so staying at a Catholic Worker house in Wellington.

The house has three stories with many rooms and many people – sleeping, eating, living – on every floor.

Some people who stay are student people, some people are working people, some people are in-between-things people, and some people are otherwise-homeless people.

Everyone can come and go as they please, most people eat altogether, and some people pray together. Earlier this week a Catholic priest came around with squinty smiley eyes and Holy Communion in a suitcase. He held a quiet Mass in the lounge.

The house is heir to the Catholic Worker Movement begun by Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day in America. The gist of being a Catholic Worker is being poor and helping the poor.

Through quotes pinned to the house’s walls Dorothy Day speaks to me from 1930’s America.

Great Depression America.

Two of those three words return to me in their new formation: ‘Make America Great Again.’ And I’m reminded of the humorous quote in the downstairs bathroom: ‘Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.’

Yet before I can be bitter, Dorothy Day tells me to love the rich and the poor.

It proves a difficult task.

Yesterday I took a short walk from the house to the botanical gardens.

My walk took me through a ‘nice’ neighborhood lightly decorated for Christmas.

Thick red ribbon woven through iron barbs

With precision and gold edging

Festive but not inviting.


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