Hold It All

Month: May, 2012


Once an aging actress told [Abbé] Mugnier, “When I pass in front of my mirror, I cry out, ‘How beautiful I am!’ Is that a sin?” “No,” murmured the abbé, “It’s only an error.”

–From William Carter’s wonderful biography of Marcel Proust

Be in Love with Yr Chilean Life

Mary Shannon studied with me last year when she was a freshman at SLU.  This year she has been in Chile in a program Katie Schlechter and Cheryl Sullivan  experienced a while back.  Mary just  sent me the following journal reflection and I am glad to share it with you.


“I’ll be honest, though. I don’t think I’ll ever really be 100% comfortable here,” said me, after 2 months in Chile. Funny how things change…

Simply arriving in Arica and stepping foot on Chilean soil and eating a sandwich with fresh palta allowed me to sigh a sigh of relief. I was back in Chile. My Chile. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized my sigh of relief was more than a sigh of relief.

Every day, I exit the metro, normally around sunset. I step outside to see the Andes, my Andes, at peak viewing hours. I wait at the corner for the light to change. When it does, I cross Bilbao and I jaywalk a bit to avoid the crowds of schoolchildren on the other side and to orient myself closer to home. And, you know, because I can. I jaywalk because I live here and this is my neighborhood and because I am no longer a foreigner confined to the path of the crosswalk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Islamic Mysticism and Liberation: Rabi’a, Rumi, and Malcolm X

I am a big proponent of “Share the wealth.” Accordingly, I have asked our friend Kristen Andersen to share her important work on Islamic mysticism and liberation, the subject of her Master’s thesis in theological studies from Iliff School of Theology (she recently passed her defense with distinction). Please join us for these sessions in June!


Since the Enlightenment, the West has consistently treated mystical experiences as private, individual, often psychological experiences that have little to do with social or political power or with the workings of G-d. It has similarly portrayed Islam as a repressive religion that has little to do with personal or societal liberation. Across centuries and continents, Muslims who have had mystical experiences have proven these assumptions wrong. In the Islamic tradition, mystical experience is understood as the experience of the presence of G-d. The liberative potentials inherent within Islam have also bloomed and borne luscious and life-sustaining fruit.

Please join us for this 3-week series of sessions about the potentials Islamic mystical experiences hold for liberation — spiritual, individual, and social/political. We’ll explore this through the lives of 3 famous Muslims.

Week 1 will focus on the Islamic understanding of mystical experience and on the exemplar of spiritual liberation and mystical experience in Islam — the theologian, mystic, and poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi. Rumi was recently the best-selling poet in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

A Request from Haiti

A friend in Haiti asked me to send her the following passage from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and now I want to reread the whole novel again!

Later, after getting used to Alyosha, Pyotr Alexandrovich Miusov, who was rather ticklish on the subjects of money and bourgeois honesty, once pronounced the following aphorism: “Here, perhaps, is the only man in the world who, were you to leave him alone and without money on the square of some unknown city with a population of a million, would not perish, would not die of cold or hunger, for he would be immediately fed and immediately taken care of, and if no one else took care of him, he would immediately take care of himself, and it would cost him no effort, and no humiliation, and he would be no burden to those who took care of him, who perhaps, on the contrary, would consider it a pleasure.”

The Wedding—

with its three major conflicts brewing
(“you’re on my side, aren’t you?”)

and seven minor ones simmering
(“he was a loser then, he’s even worse now”)

the bride’s burning eyes
(“there’s only one way to look at this”) Read the rest of this entry »

I Blame Jonathan Richman

I had to take out
A restraining order
On “that summer feeling”

It’s been haunting me

At My Wake, Someone Will Hear Someone Else Say…

“He was always telling me to share my writing…”

“You, too?  He said that to me, like… weekly!”

“Weekly?  He’d badger me  daily for a fortnight until I gave up.”

“He was relentless.”

“Verdad. Yep, he could be a pain, but when I think about it now, he was on to something.”

“How many times did he quote someone the scripture, ‘Don’t put your light under a bushel basket’?”

Seven people within a earshot raise their hands…

Some People Are Relentless

Tomorrow may I come over to Sophia House
Borrow your notebook

Take it to my house
Copy the pages you wrote

And read to me at NW Coffee
(Saturday 21 April)

Return to Sophia House
Hand the notebook  back to you

So that I can then return home
Type up those said pages

And send them out into cyberworld
For the relief of all suffering, sentient Facebookers

For the metta toward all graduate students
Enduring the gross grind of it all?



If This Is It, Then What Is It?

Three writing topics proposed by Sara Rendell:
1. If this is it, then what is it?
2. Dear Internal Critic, You Have 15 Minutes before I Ignore You
3. Something that surprised me today

“If this is it, then what is it?”

“It” is breathing in as I write that first line
“It” is sharing the space-time continuum with Sara Rendell Read the rest of this entry »

American Classics: Emma Goldman

Dear Friends,

This month for our American Classics Reading Circle, we will explore Emma Goldman’s essay “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty.”

It is available on-line here.

We meet on Wednesday 23 May and begin with a potluck dinner at 6 and discussion at 6.45.  We gather at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma at 1077 South Newstead in Forest Park Southeast

As we did with Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967  “Beyond Vietnam”  speech in January and  Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” in March,  we will discuss Goldman with reference to our current social and political context.

Feel free to bring a friend.
Emma Goldman Mug Shot