I believe that when we share in a life together, everyday moments open up the possibility for God’s goodness to be felt. At times it means we must sacrifice the desire for “efficiency” and “success” and simply enjoy mundane tasks together. One such moment happened the other day. I was driving our brother Joe to the Senior Center in midtown Tallahassee. Time pressed and rushed, I became a bit irritable. That was when during our short drive together Joe put on Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. Joe was singing along with Louis, and I eventually joined in, if even a tad reluctant: “I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
When our trio came to a joy-filled end Joe looked over at me and said, “you know something, the world is wonderful!” In that moment, I could only amen Joe’s sentiments with awe. Joe was wrongly condemned to die in prison at the age of 13. Incarcerated for nearly 28 years, Joe has suffered many woes unjustly. Yet in spite of these travesties, Joe witnesses a joy that resists cynicism. It’s in his bones and shines through his smiles. Joe has educated me in gratitude during these shared ordinary moments. This for me is what I dream Joseph House will become for many others: sharing the beauty of this world through our love for each other.
We at Joseph House believe history matters. We acknowledge that our personal memories are worth recovering as well as those collective memories that sometimes are forgotten. Join us this Thursday, February 20 at 7PM at JH for a lecture on the history of convict leasing, a time when Florida’s incarcerated were leased to businesses for the exploitation of prison labor. Peter Cowdrey from Florida’s Museum of History will guide us through this tragic history and its aftermath with images from Florida’s state archives.
We were blessed a few weeks ago when Melanie and Claire from L’Arche in Jacksonville shared their mission with some of our friends at JH. They spoke of a community formed around a vulnerable love, the value of beauty and art, celebrating life together, and the importance of traditions that ground us as a community. We hope this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership between our two communities!
-Fr. Dustin Feddon