Martha Hennessy #22560-021
1490 Elm St.
Manchester, N.H. 03101
The Spirit of the Law of Love June 1st, 2021
I am now part of a community, a house where I have neither met nor been introduced to anyone other than the intake lady and my case manager. I am into my 6th day of sitting in a room for quarantine which I am told will last 10 days. In my ghost house, I hear the voices of the residents and staff, guess at the routines that are happening here, and stand on my bed to catch a glimpse out of the top of the frosted glass. The window faces west so I see the sunsets, and part of Manchester, New Hampshire’s skyline.
There is a lovely, huge church steeple, and a sign that I must read backwards: ORACLE.
On arrival, May 26th, the person at the desk said, “Where is your suitcase, you are going into 10 days of quarantine.”
I had a great three hour drive with my husband from Danbury Prison to Hampshire House, and we were sorely disappointed when Steven had to return home without me.
I still don’t know how long I will be held here, as long as it takes to “successfully complete the program…” – reacclimating to family, secure employment, financial management needs, adequate housing, and rehab for addiction. I seem to meet the criteria for home confinement but have been branded with a current violent offense: destruction of property on a naval installation.
We will see how it all plays out after I face the Program Review Team. The mission statement here cites safety, justice, and inclusion. Hampshire House is run by a private contractor, “Community Resources for Justice.”
My mind wanders to the women left behind in Danbury and their struggles for release. The bed I am taking up here, along with the resources, are desperately needed by other prisoners. My privileged position provides me with a lovely home of 35 years, financial stability and meaningful work that awaits my return.
Here in Manchester, I am seeing as many, if not more, birds out my window, surprising for the city. Chimney swifts, seagulls, bent-tailed grackles, house sparrows, and a female oriole have passed by, or rested on the wires in front of the house. To watch the swifts in the evening, flying high, makes my heart soar with them.
I do my best to exercise physically while kept in this room. In Danbury I was allowed an hour of outdoor recreation daily, while here I am not let out at all.
Kathy Kelly alerted the local peace community of my presence here and I have received books, envelopes, and stamps from Veterans for Peace and Peace Action members.
I am reading “I am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai, remembering when it came out in 2013 but not having read it. She misses her home in the incredible Swat Valley of Pakistan while her family lives in Birmingham, England where they wait for her medical treatment.
A young man in the Taliban shot her in the eye. Her story is just amazing, her writing clear and eloquent. She grew up playing amongst the ruins of ancient Buddhist temples from four thousand years ago.
The treatment of women in the tribal culture is horrifying, of course, and the poverty in the country is overwhelming.
Her father despised the fact that his government spent money making nuclear bombs while children go without food or education.
The displacement of peoples over the centuries creates layers upon layers of histories where homesickness remains in the hearts of so many.
I think of the residents here suffering a form of displacement, refugees of a throw away culture.
The traumas of Kashmir and Palestine only grow since 1947 with the creation of false borders and the taking of a peoples’ land.
One of the miracles of being at this halfway house is that I got my cell phone back and am able to participate in the Lectio group with Liz McAlister and others.
Today we talked about the criticism Anna gives to her husband when he assumes the worst about a goat giver. “Where are your virtuous acts, charitable deeds?” And Jesus points out “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s in Mark 12:13 – 17.
What is intended with the letter of the law is the spirit of the law?
Our Mark Coville, as he faces four more months in prison in Brooklyn, NY, follows the law of love by upholding the rule of law with regards to nuclear weapons.
Our judge sees that we are good people from beloved community and family; she received stacks of mail in support of this fact for all the KBP7 defendants. And yet…this “breaking of the law” is seen outside of the spirit of the law, if it doesn’t come from a place of love, what good does it offer society? Caesar is also even of God so in the end, all must be rendered to God.
So I follow the law of love by showing gratitude to those who come to the door with food and water, doing their jobs and taking care of new residents.
The house is now quiet, the sounds of the city drift in through the window, it is beautiful June, and I am an anchoress, attached and captive.
To fear what God asks of us is such a difficult human experience. Am I prepared, am I strong enough to stand up to the demands, walking the Way? Even as I walk, now 37 months into this plowshares action, can I still put one foot in front of the other? I’m getting closer to my home but still so far away. The pain of homesickness is a constant dull ache, and yet I am here, present with others, even these distant voices of children playing in the late afternoon.
If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you are with.