At 10:15 a.m. on February 9, William “Bix” Bichsel, SJ was released from SeaTac Federal Detention Center. According to Theresa Power-Drutis, Bix’s first request was to “head over the bridge to Bangor.” His second request was a latte. His chauffeurs went for the second request. With all the milk he consumed during his liquids-only fasts while in solitary he seems to have rediscovered a desire for dairy products.
Shortly after Bix returned to his home (Jean’s House of Prayer at the Tacoma Catholic Worker) friends came and went throughout the afternoon to welcome him home. Everyone remarked how well he looked. It was obvious to all of us that Bix came out of prison (after a month in solitary confinement and a total of 19 days of fasting) in phenomenal form mentally, physically and spiritually.
Bix spoke freely about his time on the inside. He spoke of his return from the halfway house to SeaTac and how he was able to enter into a fast immediately. “The only thing that sustained me was the Grace of God, and I felt that. But I also felt that sense of freedom that… you know, it was like a joyful sense of… a gift of God.”
Bix interrupted his stories with spontaneous laughter now and then; his spirits (and everyone else’s) were high. When asked how he was feeling after his release he said very firmly, yet gently, “I feel good.”
Sitting with friends at the kitchen table Bix wore a simple necklace of bells made in Cambodia from collected shell casings and other weapons of war, a fitting symbol of Bix’s deep desire to turn our swords into plowshares.
At one point, after telling us of his prison experience, he moved the conversation to our shared work to eliminate nuclear weapons and create the peaceful world in which we are all meant to dwell together. Many people consider such vision a pipe dream. Sitting there with Bix I had a firm sense that his dreams do not come from any pipe. Rather, they emanate from a deep, abiding faith in God, a God who wants all of us to learn the lessons of peace and make war no more.
I think we all have much to learn from Bix’s dreams, but even more so from his embodiment of The Word. He is truly The Word brought to life. And, it is good.
P.S. – Two additional things: The Guadalupe Gala is this Saturday (Feb. 11th). Whether or not Bix will be able to attend depends on factors beyond our (or to a large extent Bix’s) control. One way or another it will be a festive and important event. More info by clicking here.
And – You can now write Bix at:
Tacoma Catholic Worker
1417 South G Street
Tacoma WA 98405-4437