November 23, 2021 Editor

Learning to Love Recklessly

Dorothy Day

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife, which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, “What else is the world interested in?” What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love.

The greatest weapon in the world is the reckless spending of ourselves in God’s service.

You may also wish to read: Confronted by Dorothy: A Christian Activist Reckons with a Modern-Day Saint. The article is taken from the introduction to a collection of Dorothy Day’s writings, The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus. You may download a free Ebook in three formats. We read:

I picked up a button about a decade ago with a quote attributed to Dorothy Day on it: “If you have two coats, you have stolen one from the poor.” I loved this saying, loved the strength of conviction, the easy black-and-white application. I read more about Dorothy and became smitten. Her severe face and warm hands and intense sound bites were so soothing to my soul as I first read of her life and work and the Catholic Worker movement she helped start. I affixed that button to the front of my one orange-plaid corduroy coat and tromped around my neighborhood during the cold, gray Portland winters, hoping others would read it and be changed. If I am honest, a part of me wanted others to know how radical I was, how I had eschewed the things of the world, how hard I was trying to follow Jesus.

Now, years later, I have three coats: the orange-plaid corduroy still (even though the pockets have ripped), a raincoat (since I live in Oregon), and a longer, warm coat I bought for the three winters I spent in the Midwest. My Dorothy Day button now lives in a junk drawer, because I can’t bear to wear it if it isn’t true. Should I give one of my coats away? To whom should I give it? I live and work in a refugee and immigrant community; there are dozens of people I know who could use a coat. How do I pick? How do I navigate the enormity of the needs of the world, and my own response to them? I still don’t know. And yet, even as I think these thoughts and feel like a failed radical, the words and life of Dorothy Day mean more to me than ever.

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.