Dangerous Compassions

Jerry Zawada

Thinking about my friend Jerry.  He was so sweet.  I liked his hugs, his way of giggling about civil disobedience, his total concern for me and everyone. 

I gave him the prayer zine I made a few years ago: I knew how to sing but not how to pray.  He asked me after he read it if my shoulder was ok.  “Are you in a lot of pain?” he asked.

I have a picture of him one Thanksgiving–he had some wine and we were pretending something funny.  I can’t find it. 

But here’s one from a while back when R’s hair was short.  Looks like it was taken by Creech Air Force Base, probably after a vigil.

One time we had a roundtable while Jerry was visiting that was about abortion.  Jerry said if a woman was pregnant and didn’t want the baby, he would want to take the baby and care for it.  I was crying to imagine this old man, a Franciscan monk, trying to care for a little baby, and how cool that person would probably be.

He got in big trouble for attending a mass led by a woman.  He was being controlled by his superiors–I think he was not excommunicated but defrocked or something.  He had to go where ever they told him.

He had really strong values.  He was using a walker to get around and trying to do yoga as part of a yoga flashmob to a song about peace at the test site.  He got arrested a lot, in civil disobedience.

I didn’t understand how he could maintain so much kindness and softness into old age.  He seemed so vulnerable, like someone would take his wallet every day! 

He was so strong, to be that soft and generous.  I still feel amazed at what he was able to do.  I’m 43 years old and have been hardened for a while.  This guy was gold.

Many people were close to him and cherished him.  He had a fan club, that’s for sure.  I was just a blip in his long life.  But when I need inspiration, I can remember him.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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