Come, you lost atoms to your centre draw near and be the eternal mirror that you saw. Rays that have wandered into darkness wide, back into your sun, subside.


Sufi poet, Attar.


Sunrise on the lake taken from our deck 2020-11-20 bruce witzel photo

Image of the lake from the deck, received Friday morning November 20, 2020 


Sent with peace and love,



Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP — Presente!

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Washington, D.C.

Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP, 84, who lived at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (DDCW) since 2018, entered eternal life on September 30, 2020. On October 3, 2020, members and friends of the DDCW held a Memorial Celebration of Life for Ardeth in the community garden. See: https://archive.org/details/memorial-ceremony

Ardeth wrote the following “Paths I Have Walked,” outlining her faith journey. (See: https://www.grdominicans.org/sisters/sister-ardeth-platte/.)

Paths I Have Walked – by Sr. Ardeth Platte, OP

My love and gratitude for these Gospel blessings given by God, family, Dominican Community, friends, Intentional Communities and so many others who have blessed and inspired this journey:

– Born on Good Friday, April 10, 1936 into a loving family of big brother and missionary dad

– Seventy-nine years of life and sixty-six years as a Dominican Sister

– Teacher of junior and senior high school, principal and coordinator of an Educational Center in inner city, Saginaw


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THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN – requiescat in pacem fr. Charles Brandt


Swans Abstract - charles brandt photo

Swans in flight – photo by Fr. Charles Brandt


Sunday morning close to 6 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, the soul of our friend and brother, Frater Charles A.E. Brandt, departed from this earth.  Words that are barely adequate now to express my feelings,       are from a book I recently read. This is how I will always recall dear Charles:


Yesterday I met a whole man. It is a rare experience, but always an illuminating and ennobling one. It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage, to pay the price. . . . One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.


Excerpt from The Shoes of the Fisherman  by Morris West


                                                                                    photo by Grant Callegari

Charles-Brandt-catholic-hermit- with-bible - photo Grant Callegari

frater Charles A.E. Brandt    

born Feb.19, 1923  (kansas City, MO)  ~  died  Oct.25, 2020 (Courtenay, B.C.)



“The human community and the natural world must move forward into the future as a single sacred community or we will perish in the desert. Only the sense of the sacred can save us.”   fr. Charles Brandt



A unique interview with Charles, all about his life, can be found


entitled A Single Sacred Community, and

published by the Thomas Merton Center in 2016.


Or, for a different condensed version of this interview (with photos)

try this link – Our lives, Well lived: Charles Brandt at 94.


Charles at his hermitage  in the forest, maybe a decade ago  – photo by Nick Didlick

Charles Brandt at his hermitage - photo by Nick Didlick



Charles lived a life of contemplative prayer as a hermit priest. He was also well loved and active in the larger community, with-in and with-out a diverse circle of his friends and affiliates. You may like to to watch a beautiful 4 minute 2012 U-Tube of Charles speaking alongside a Comox Valley river about The Sacred Commons, where he gives a Tribute to Aldo Leopold. 

Here is the link:



While you listen you may get a sense of the kind of person Charles was. In his humble way, he would have liked this:  a tribute with-in a tribute.



Or, this wonderful 3 minute Shaw TV report from 2010 has a beautiful glimpse of Charles at his hermitage, on Oyster River. In a nutshell it reviews how he came to be there, and his basic ecological and faith orientation.  Fr. Charles also explains his book binding and art conservation laboratory.  Here is the link and I am certain that you will find it uplifting.






On behalf of us all, with deepest gratitude for Fr. Charles

and his example of love and care for the earth, and for one another





photo by B. Thomas Witzel – October 24, 2020

High River, Alberta  (in memorium of Charles Brandt) 2020-10-24 bruce witzel photo


“There are no goodbyes. Wherever you’ll be, you’ll be in my heart.” 





Frater Charles Brandt is seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia, so please, remember him in your thoughts and prayers.


A few weeks ago Fr. Charles was honoured to receive the Nature Inspiration 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Museum of Nature. Charles worked for nearly 30 years in galvanizing a campaign that eventually helped restore the salmon population in Tsolum River. In 2000 it had been declared dead the Canadian Governments Department of Fisheries and Oceans due to toxic mine pollution and poor logging practices.


lifetime achiement award - Screen Shot 2020-09-19 at 10.09.30 AM

Fr. Charles want us to care, to contemplate as well as pray

for the earth, and for each another. 


With peace and love, Bruce


(photo below is by Charles Brandt 2007 – Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation)

Antelope Canyon, Page Arizona - July 2007 by Charles A.E.Brandt


~ ~ ~ ~

Earth, torn and tattered


The human community and the natural world must

go forward into the future as one single sacred community

or we will perish in the desert.


Earth flag, torn and tattered - bruce witzel photo


Only a sense of the sacred can save us.


Meditation by Phil Berrigan, prophet of peace (FOR CURRENT TIMES)


Calligraphy drawing of the Atomic Bomb by Thomas Merton


“We began to realize that we hadn’t known our country, that we had been duped by its mythology, that we had been infants at the feet of power, that we had actually worked to sustain its deceptions.” 

Phil Berrigan, arrested with the Catonsville Nine  

Catonsville Nine - property of Baltimore County Public Library, Catonsville Branch

photo from the Baltimore  Public Library, Catonsville Branch




Philip Berrigan was a man of God who challenged his own religion to practice what it preaches.  He served in combat during World War Two and then for 16 years as a Catholic priest, before being married.

From 1968 to 2001 Philip spent 11 of those years in American prisons for his opposition to nuclear weapons and war. He died in 2002.


Phip Berrigan through prison gates - Cornell university Library Image

Cornell University Library Image


The Catonsville Nine burning draft files on May 17, 1968 - William La Force photoWilliam La Force photo

The Catonsville Nine praying Our Father  and burning draft cards on May 17, 1968.  Phil Berrigan is in the center.


These are some of Philip Berrigan thoughts….




For me it is a rule that a man ought to test his life against events. The United States faces a crises of staggering proportions; some call it the worse since the Civil War; others, the most severe in our history. Many sober observers are convinced that we have entered that period of decline reserved for empires that are falling apart.

No one argues about the seriousness of the crises, but most will differ about its character; in any case, our traditional institutions seem impotent before it. Business, for example, rejects both an equitable tax load and a curb on excessive profits; the military not only practices imperial terrorism but also influences high-level decision making in domestic foreign policy; the church, too, is seized with an unholy rage for law and order, while government continues to represent power rather than people.


Under neocapitalism, technology has been distinctly antihumanist, tending to make our institutions at once obsolete and unrepresentative. Burdened with the same kind of determinist and relativist philosophy as the economic and political sectors that control it, technology has thus far served as a tool of power, more to be feared than welcomed. Indeed, our mechanical inventiveness has received, assimilated, and heightened the amorality of the society that patronized it.

Such a perspective appears to shed some light on the crises gripping our society. We see the entirely traditional resolve of vested power to keep it’s crown and scepter –despite the nay-sayers… Or, to put it differently, our foreign involvements and domestic crises imply an attempt by concentrated power to maintain high levels of active and subtle violence while “pacifying” both ideological opponents and victims. And the only novel aspect of this phase of imperial decline is its apparent inevitability in a nation allegedly democratic and unsurpassingly affluent. (page 97-98)


Men still need to learn that excessive wealth, racism, and war mean the impossibility of a human, indeed a viable, society. Peace will remain an illusion until the atrocities of war and exploitation are eliminated. But it is only realism to recognize that their elimination will cost a terrible price in dislocation and suffering. And it will be the weak and the visionary who will suffer the most.

Perversely, men have always valued their poor –valued them enough to insure that they will be numerous. And men have always punished their prophets. This is because the poor and the prophet force others to look at themselves in different mirrors, the former showing men as they are, the latter as they can be. Since both reflections are painful, both are hated, along with those who show them.


When men no longer use their poor to exalt their own egos, when they no longer destroy their prophets, then justice will have come to the poor, and prophecy shall be treasured as power is now. Having banished the ancient call to strife and blood, man can begin to compete in love and service. Then we will begin to live.  (page 103)


Excerpts from Prison Journals of a Priest Revolutionary by Philip Berrigan, written in 1968.



                                                                                       artist unknown


What an amazing vision, an amazing hope…

Peace is not only possible.

With love,

It is our key.







In this world there is nothing softer or thinner than water.

But to compel the hard and unyielding, it has no equal.


clouds trees ocean - bruce witzel photo


That the weak overcomes the strong,

that the hard gives way to the gentle –

this everyone knows,

yet on one acts accordingly.


Lao -Tzu



This photo from Victoria in British Columbia, looks out onto Juan de Fuca Straight towards USA


Cheers – Bruce

Reflecting on the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima


When the first atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, Father Pedro Arrupe was master of novices in a suburb on the outskirts of the city. A medical student before entering the Jesuits, he responded to the extraordinary events unfolding around him by transforming the novitiate into a hospital and his novices into nurses. He headed one of the first rescue teams into Hiroshima after the devastation. Together they cared for about 200 people suffering from traumatic injuries as well as the mysterious burns and sickness associated with radiation poisoning.


Pedro Arrupe with quote added by Bruce Witzel - August 5, 2020


An excerpt from The Essential Writings of Pedro Arrupe:

I was in my room with another priest …when suddenly we saw a flash of magnesium. Naturally we were surprised and jumped up to see what was happening. As I opened the door which faced the city, we heard a formidable explosion similar to the blast of a hurricane. At the same time doors, windows, and walls fell upon us in smithereens…

A shock in time of war, a terrible explosion of extraordinary power, these always leave an impression. For me, at that first moment, it was just one more explosion. What did we know of the atomic bomb? We were ignorant of what that solitary B-29 had carefully laid, at a height of 1700 feet, in the semi-transparent atmosphere, on that cloudy August morning….


Replica of atom bomb Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima Aug 6 1945 - bruce witzel photo

Los Alamos replica of the atom bomb code-named “Little Boy”  dropped on Hiroshima – bruce witzel photo


The roof tiles, bits of glass, and beams had scarcely ceased falling, and the deafening roar died away, when I rose from the ground and saw before me the wall clock still hanging in its place but motionless. Its pendulum seemed nailed down. It was ten minutes past eight. For me that silent and motionless clock has been a symbol. The explosion of the first atomic bomb has become a para-historical phenomenon. It is not a memory, it is a perpetual experience, outside history, which does not pass with the ticking of the clock. The pendulum stopped and Hiroshima has remained engraved on my mind. It has no relation with time. It belongs to motionless eternity…

I shall never forget my first sight of what was the result of the atomic bomb: a group of young women, eighteen or twenty years old, clinging to one another as they dragged themselves along the road. One had a blister that almost covered her chest; she had burns across half of her face, and a cut in her scalp caused probably by a falling tile, while great quantities of blood coursed freely down here face. On on and they came, a steady procession numbering some 150,000. This gives some idea of the scene of horror.

It is at such times that one feels most a priest, when one knows that in the city there are 50,000 bodies which, unless they are cremated, will cause a terrible plague. There were besides some 120,000 wounded to care for. In light of these facts, a priest cannot remain outside the city just to preserve his life. Of course, when one is told that in the city there is a gas that kills, one must be very determined to ignore that fact and go in. And we did. And we soon began to raise pyramids of bodies and pour fuel on them to set them afire…

We did the only thing that could be done in the presence of such mass slaughter: we fell on our knees and prayed for guidance, as we were destitute of all human help.

                                                                                                      Pedro Arrupe


Nevada Nuclear Test Site - public domain

Nevada Nuclear Test Site (photo is public domain)



The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was estimated to equal 15 kilotons on TNT. One B83 warhead in todays US nuclear arsenal is 80 times more destructive – equal to 120 kilotons of TNT. Many major nations throughout the world continue to spend Billions, even Trillions, annually “upgrading” crazy weapons of war.

Currently at least 1 Billion people throughout the globe (more during the pandemic) don’t have access to running water and suffer from chronic hunger. In my view, this doesn’t jive for the earth to survive. Where do you stand on this issue?

Father Pedro Arrupe later became the Superior of the Jesuits and is a dearly remembered advocate for nuclear disarmament and impoverished people everywhere.


Peace ~ Bruce 


Living Memorial Sculpture Garden - created by Vietnam veteran and sculptural artist Denis Smith - photo by Bruce Witzel

Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California created by war veteran Dennis Smith (photo by Bruce Witzel)


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A ZEN STORY – from Thomas Merton


Zen story:


   A monk said to Joshu: “What is the way?”                                                               Joshu replied: “Outside the fence.”

  The monk insisted: “I mean the Great Way? What is the Great Way?”                        Joshu replied: “The Great Way is that which leads to the Capital.”


   The Great Way is right in the middle of this story, and I should remember it when I get excited about war and peace. I sometimes think I have an urgent duty to make all kind of protest and clarification –but above all, the important thing is to be on the Great Way and stay on it, whether one speaks or not.


Catwalk and Whitewater Canyon in Gila National Forest New Mexico 2016-10-10 bruce witzel photo


     It is not necessary to run all over the countryside shouting “peace, peace!” But it is essential to stay on the Great Way which leads to the Capital, for only on the Great Way is there peace. If no one follows the way, there will be no peace in the world, no matter how much men preach on it.


    It is easy to know that that “there is a way somewhere,” and even perhaps to know that others are not on it (by analogy with one’s own lostness, wandering far from the way). But this knowledge is useless unless it helps one find the way.


from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander  – Thomas Merton


All is holy


The world is holy. We are holy. All life is holy.


Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves …


Life's a beach, Grant Bay best 2006-07-09 bruce witzel photo




the whisperings of grasses …


Burgundy grass 2010-10-20 bruce witzel photo




the shimmering of leaves.


Spider web and apple tree with old mans beard in background 2017-05-20 bruce witzel photo 


—Terry Tempest Williams



Peace ~ Bruce

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