Thursday, July 29, 2010

I write about doing service work from time to time. I actually don’t write about it as often as I should. It is a life choice that Jorma and I feel strongly about though. Were it not for the service work that directly affected the two of us, we might not have the Ranch today.

The world is filled with humanitarians and people who really walk the walk. Jorma and I have had the esteem pleasure of seeing service work in action with our friend Art Gish. Art Gish has been active in peace and social justice work for some fifty years, beginning with work as a conscientious objector in Europe in the late 50’s . He also worked in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, and has actively opposed U. S. involvement in wars since his youth. Art and his wife have been actively working with Peacemaker Teams in the Middle East since 1995. He has authored several books but one in particular that I am more familiar with is Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking . I may not have agreed with some of the things that he stands for but I have the utmost respect for his work. He was a world renowned peacemaker and my heart is heavy today for the world’s loss. He died in a tractor accident on his farm not far from here.

I have to admit that some of my fondest memories of Art are not conversations about peace but rather the celebration of life and the opportunity to rest on Friday’s nights when we sat side by side at Shabbat services. I don’t even know if he was Jewish and it really does not matter. He honored everyone. He actually stood down an Israeli tank in the West Bank city of Hebron as Israeli bulldozers leveled a market. Like I said, I may not have agreed with everything he stood for but I think he was a modern day prophet and he never waivered from his non-violent values. He put himself on the front lines (literally). Thank you Art for your support of Jorma would say, Long May You Run My Brother...Fair Winds and Following Seas.


  1. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. He sounds like one of those people we need a lot more of. And knowing that two people who can disagree can do so with respect and honor has been an art that is being forgotten.

    Blessings to Art and his family.

  2. I just read that in the paper this afternoon.Of all things...a tractor accident. He'll be a missed face at the farmers market and in the local paper about his newest adventure in peacemaking.
    I think there is a job somewhere, waiting for him, in the field that was so passionate to him on earth.

  3. I too have fond memories of my old friend and neighbor, Art Gish. When I first arrived in Athens, Ohio, Art was one of the first people I had met while working as a street vendor. I was selling burritos (before The Bagel Buggy) and he was selling his handmade sandals. Anyone who purchased a pair of his sandals probably still has them today as they were the most durable footwear made. He welcomed me into my new community and for the next 29 years we would converse on a wide range of topics. And like I said before, I may not have always shared his beliefs but more to the point was that even though we may have has different views we often had similar goals but differed on the means as which to attain them. Nevertheless, Art was interested in how I felt and listened to what I had to say and taught me how to refrain from arguing when one doesn't share the same views as you might. I am much better at this type of thing tan I ever was before and for that I am honored to have considered Art a good friend and a neighbor who would go up and beyond the call of duty when it came to helping a fellow neighbor.
    When riding our horses, Art and Peggy always liked me using their road up to the trails that connected to the other trails that we wanted to ride and were always neighborly when we did.
    Art also introduced me to garden foods that I would never have ever imagined eating, giving me strange things and telling me an easy way to prepare them.And as I write this I can still haer the sound of that funny sounding John Deere tractor he used for his cultivating until it burned in a fire while parked in his barn.
    I miss my old friend neighbor and the old farm on Dutch Creek but I am happy to think about Art and our other gone bfore neighbor, Lewis Hixson. I can only imagine what they are saying to one another in heaven while they continue the talks that we had on earth. God Bless Art, Lewis, and Dr. Pete Smith, and may they keep a place at the table for me so I can join in the conversation.

    Smiles Forever, Mark Bernards (posting with my dear friend Lynnie's Google account) because I am still baffled at some of these computer requirements!

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  5. I read about Art's passing from people on FB who I've kept touch with in Athens (I'm Liz de Vos with the twins).

    As you said, I may not have agreed with him on everything, but you have to admire someone who puts actions behind their beliefs.