Hold It All

Month: March, 2013

Mantra Walk, Michigan and Wabash Avenues, Easter Weekend, Chicago

Holy Saturday
Sun shining on all
Haré Rama Haré Rama

Tourists juggling cameras and kids
Capture this moment for later
Rama Rama Haré Haré

Columbia College East-West
University bookstores
Haré Krishna Haré Krishna Read the rest of this entry »

Jottings and Notes from Cami’s Talk

Cami Kasmerchak, Appalachian Summer: To the Mountains and Back, Sunday 24  February 2013

She talked about the “call” … reminds me of Margaret Wheatley: “The notion of vocation comes from spiritual and philosophical traditions. It describes a “call,” work that is given to us, that we are meant to do. We don’t decide what our vocation is, we receive it. It always originates from outside us. Therefore, we can’t talk about vocation or a calling without acknowledging that there is something going on beyond our narrow sense of self. It helps remind us that there’s more than just me, that we’re part of a larger and purpose-filled place. …Even if we don’t use the word vocation, most of us want to experience a sense of purpose to our lives. From a young age, and especially as we mature, people often express the feeling of life working through them, of believing there’s a reason for their existence. I always love to hear a young person say that they know there’s a reason why they’re here. I know that if they can hold onto that sense of purpose, they’ll be able to deal with whatever life experiences await them. If we don’t feel there’s a meaning to our lives, life’s difficulties can easily overwhelm and discourage us.”

Cami knows the reason why she was there. Read the rest of this entry »

One Thought Away

In his book Paths to God:
Living the Bhagavad Gita

Ram Dass writes
“It’s always just one thought away

The living spirit
The community of our consciousness

The guru within—
Whatever you want to call it Read the rest of this entry »

Deep Listening

He has continuous eye contact
Not looking away at people
To the left or right
Or coming toward us

Ever steady
But he’s not staring
He’s beholding
He’s present

All there
Taking it all in
Doesn’t interrupt to say

“You forgot about this” or
“You really ought to try that” or
“The problem with Obama is…” or
“I know all about that”

He isn’t itching to score points
He isn’t counting the seconds
Until he can deliver
The conversational coup de grâce

He’s OK with pauses
Doesn’t rush in to fill them with chitchat
He’s got an intimate relationship
With silence

No phone in his hand
No checking it every two minutes
No texts while conversing
No “Just let me take this”

After I’ve talked for a spell
Having read my soul
He speaks slowly to me
With encouragement or appreciation

After being with him
I feel like I’m the most important person in the world
Probably just like the last ten people
Who’ve talked with him

Could the Rich Just Be a Little Nicer?

I recently came across this  excerpt from an interview, which first appeared in 1999.  I am reminded of the 17 people who showed up on Sunday at Sophia House to hear Sara and Emily speak about another prophetic bishop of the people, Oscar Romero.


David Barsamian: The Brazilian archbishop Dom Hélder Camara once said, “When I fed the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why are they poor, they called me a communist.” Did you know him?

Noam Chomsky:  I didn’t know him, but about two years ago I happened to be in Recife, which was his base.  He was one of the leading figures in liberation theology. He made a real difference in Brazil and in the world, and in particular in Recife. The church traditionally had been the church of the rich. He turned it into a church of the poor. He got his priests and nuns to work in the poor areas. Church buildings were given over to educational and health institutions. It made a big change. Recife was one of the leading centers of liberation theology. It was devastated, mainly by violence, but also by the Vatican. Read the rest of this entry »

Karma Yoga, with a Shovel

We knew it was coming
6 to 10 inches

Dread: The roads will be terrible!
Exhilaration: No school!

That morning he left his house
Shovel in hand

He approached one older neighbor
With his usual smile

“How about I make a start
In this driveway of yours?” Read the rest of this entry »

Perhaps It Was All Very Innocent

I returned to working at Lashonda’s House
And had the shift on Thursday evenings

One night after I left the house at 10:45
I went to the grocery to pick up a few things

As I was looking over the romaine lettuce
A shiver shot through me

I looked up and a drop-dead gorgeous young woman
Was staring at me and walking toward me

“You’re the professor who wrote Stature and Terror
I prepared myself for imminent vitriol Read the rest of this entry »


Now that you’ve been accepted
To the Kennedy School of Government
Where you’ll have access
To current and future movers and shakers

Where there’ll be balanced discussions
About “America’s humanitarian role in the world”
Where professors are civil, assured
Savvy, and so very smart

Once a month (or, if need be, once a day)
Return to some touchstones
Like one of Mev’s photos from Haiti
Or one of your photos from Gaza

Meditate on these images of people
Whom Chomsky and Herman described
As the “unworthy victims”
Of the United States

They are worthy to you
Their suffering is real to you
Their dignity radiated out to you
And vibrates in you to this day

Remember that not so ancient history
Of when Jimmy Carter
(The human rights president)
Ignored Oscar Romero’s plea

To stop sending U.S. arms to his country
Whose government was using them
To massacre the people
Who were awakening to their human rights

“I commend these words to you
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house
When you walk on your way” [1]:

“The church in Latin America
Has much to say about humanity
It looks at the sad picture
Portrayed by the Puebla conference:

Faces of landless peasants
Mistreated and killed by the forces of power
Faces of laborers arbitrarily dismissed
And without a living wage for their families

Faces of the elderly
Faces of outcasts
Faces of slum dwellers
Faces of poor children who from infancy

Begin to feel the cruel sting of social injustice
For them, it seems, there is no future—
No school, no high school, no university
By what right have we cataloged persons

As first-class persons or second-class persons?
In the theology of human nature
There is only one class:
Children of God” [2]

Donkey Boys

[1] Primo Levi, “Shema”
[2] Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

One Fine Day

Dear Bella

Would you take a ride with me
On 55-South?

You pick the exit

We’ll find a diner or truck stop
Burger King even Read the rest of this entry »

Another Yom Kippur

Reading Koheleth
Listening to Rostropovich’s Bach
Drinking Stolichnaya
Writing a postcard to Bella Balaban