Hold It All

Month: May, 2013

Come, Beloved by Meera

As the lotus dies without water,
As the night is blind without the moon,
So is my heart without you, Beloved.
I wander alone at night,
Driven by my longing for you.
I hunger for you all the day,

I thirst for you all the night.
My grief is beyond words
My mind is beyond rest.
Come and end my grief, Beloved.
Come and bring joy to my heart.
You know my inmost secret;
Then look at me with eyes of love,
Your slave for countless lives
since the dawn of time.
So says Meera at your feet.

Meera was a Rajput princess in the sixteenth century. After her husband’s death his family so persecuted her for her devotional practices that she left the palace and wandered on pilgrimage. Wherever she went she joined other devotees in singing and dancing in praise of the Lord. Her songs have been passed down by wandering minstrels who altered them to suit their native dialects. It is a testimony to their beauty and to the current of devotion in Indian life that they are still widely known and sung today. These are free renderings into English by Eknath Easwaran.

Jotting from a Notebook Early 2011

Please remember Victor Jara,
in the Santiago Stadium.
Es Verdad, those Washington Bullets

How can one take seriously anything
The U.S. government says about being pro-democracy
When it supported the Mubarak dictatorship for 30 years?
Support the dictators
The junta
Those generals of neo-Nazi persuasion
The National Security States
The sonuvabitches
Ríos Montt
The Shah

Jimmy Carter ignored Monseñor Romero’s plea
To stop sending arms to the Salvadoran government
The arms kept coming
The people organizing to change things kept getting murdered
(As did Romero)
The U.S. way of arms sales to dictators
Is the Third World way of death for the people

You’re the Beautiful Resistance

There’s something about your sharing with me
Tears usually are the result

Not sadness as in Ach
But gratitude as in Ah

I’ve known  you nine years plus
So, of course, we inter-are

Muriel Ruykeyser: The universe
Is made of stories not atoms

You were a theatre wiz
Sassy smart aleck

Devotee of Boal
Proud hoosier Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth: Slow Is Beautiful

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
–Blaise Pascal

“The whole struggle of life is to some extent a struggle about how slowly or how quickly to do each thing.”
–Sten Nadolny

“To be able to feel leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization.”
–Bertrand Russell

“So as not to feel the terrible burden of time that breaks your shoulders and bends you towards the earth, you must get drunk without respite. But drunk on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you like. But get drunk.”
–Charles Baudelaire

Join us at on Sunday 2 June  for our next Share the Wealth: Lindsay Sihilling will facilitate “Slow is Beautiful,” a conversation on what it means to resist rushing and center on a more mindful approach to the pace of our lives. We will think about what areas of our life (working, loving, cooking, driving) can benefit from deliberate acts of slowness.

Lindsay will share how an interruption to her formerly fast-paced life forced her to confront the present, embrace a more meditative grasp on time, and grow in the wisdom of living a slower life.

We will consider:
Does my pace of life improve the quality of my life or take away from it?
How can we maintain a still mind in the midst of a full schedule?
Are we afraid of going slowly?
What does Baudelaire mean by “the horrible burden of time”?

Potluck dinner begins at 6 pm
Lindsay begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jim and J’Ann Allen
4519 Oakland Avenue
Forest Park Southeast

Lindsay NWC 3.1.2014

Lindsay, at Northwest Coffee

The Simple Things

Walking in Forest Park
Watching the baby ducks
Receiving each others’ stories
Seeing the blue sky
Smiling in the present moment
There we were:

–from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

Would Someone Please Start an Institute for the Cultivation of Slowness?

Rushing is a way of life
We’re speed freaks
Yeah it’s a drug
Move the mind
Faster and faster
Get more done
Faster and faster
Our lives are one long Stair Master’s routine
The pace ever increasing
The intensity more than the week before
Day in
Day out
Up before dawn
Down after midnight
Keep moving
Keep going
Eyes on the prize
But the eyes get tired
Of trying to get a bead on
The blur that is our life
So accomplished
So ready to help out here
Put out a fire there
And this one
And that one
And, look, over there
Another job to be done
(“Somebody’s got to do it”–
And we know who that somebody always is)
Faster and faster
Keep up
(Everybody else is doing it)
Our faces only resurrected
When that triple espresso kicks in
But inside we know
“This is too much
I can’t do it”
But then it starts all over
The race is on
(It’s always on)
Don’t wanna be a loser
This life a 400 meter sprint
Perpetually repeated with a minute breather
Time for a vacation?
We might need two months just to decompress
Welcome to the land of all those Indispensable, time-saving technologies and devices that we now spend so much time on
There’s only so much energy
For the 47 emails in the in-box before 9 a.m.
For the 18 phone calls to return
To each person who considers his agenda
As having the highest PRIORITY and utmost URGENCY
Which must be dealt with NOW
(“Go on a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh?
Maybe in 15 years…”)
Faster and faster
Check it off
Forget to take that deep breath
Wearier and wearier
The commercials proclaim:
“You can do it!”
(Our heart gasps:
“I can’t do it!”)
But look there
Happiness is right there on the horizon
127 tasks away

The Daily Mail

The following is a short chapter from Hedy Epstein’s memoir-in-progress, Remembering Is Not Enough.  Dianne Lee and I are both privileged to be assisting Hedy on this project.

In those first years of the Nazi regime, it was hard for me to grasp the import of  politics writ large.  However, I would soon come face to face with discrimination on  a regular basis.  Whereas I   once enjoyed walking to the post office to pick up our mail, it soon became a repetitive nightmare.  Mr. Link, the father of one of my classmates, was the postmaster and he came regularly dressed to work in a  Nazi uniform. He began to refuse me the use of the office stepladder, which made it very difficult to reach the slot where the mail was.  To make me work even harder, he pushed the mail as far back in the compartment as possible.  One day he even chased me out of the building with his dog. I ran to  the nearby home of a Jewish family, where I slowly regained my composure.

I complained about all this to my parents, “I’m not tall enough, it’s hard to get to, and he’s putting it all the way in the back.” My father said, “You have to figure out a way to deal with this.”  He wasn’t going to relieve me of that responsibility.

My solution: Each time I went, I brought a little footstool.

At the time, I thought my father should make life easy for me, which he wasn’t doing, and I resented it. Instead, he saw that I had this obstacle, and I would have to find a way to address it. He wasn’t going to tell me how to do it. And he was’t going to accompany me, either.

Later, when I was separated from my parents, I finally understood what he had been trying to teach me then, and I had to agree with him, because it was many of these everyday struggles that later helped me to survive.

Cece’s Smile

For Mary and Matt

A while after Mev died
I went to a gathering at Jesuit Hall
In honor of Guadalupe Carney
Who had lived in Honduras with the poor

Scores of people were there
Across the crowded room I saw Cece Weinkauff
Who must have been 14 at that time
She saw me and let loose a smile to raise the dead

That beam of eyes that mouth and that hand wave were familiar to me
I felt instantly at ease
Happy and grateful
To behold Cece (to remember Mev)

For all I know Cece wasn’t trying to offer me consolation
She was being herself
And that consoled me
For a while that day

In those days desolation would appear just as suddenly
It might be seeing a woman in a wheelchair
Or one wearing a scarf in an unusual way
Or a Doppelgänger walking away from me down the aisle at Schnucks

Consolation came
But then went
And that was a desolation
Some of the time

Desolation came
And then went
And that was a consolation
Some of the time

There were times when desolation came
It was as if it was occupying my soul
Colonizing it
Setting up an infrastructure

Leading me to think:
This is the way it’s gonna be
And in those moments
(Sometimes those hours)

I was convinced
“This shit is here to stay”
I was always wrong about that, though
Which wasn’t always all that much consolation

All these years later
I remember Cece’s smile
A gift she unwittingly gave me
And which reminds me today

What got me through
Were hundreds
Thousands of moments like that

May we play a part
In such moments
For those feeling surrounded
By a loss that’s unfathomable

The Miracle of Being Cheerful

Years of nausea
Heart being battered
Hourly taking up your cross
And carrying it
Night after day
Day after night

And when I’ve seen you
Always that smile
Always that glow
Always that effervescence
Always that mirth
All the while being intimately familiar with agony
Your embodied miracle:
Not being bitter

Elvia Alvarado

Our Latin America Reading Group will discuss Elvia Alvarado’s testimony, Don’t Be Afraid, Gringo on Thursday 30 May at 7 p.m. at Café Ventana.


I imagine Elvia meeting up with Che
And the revolutionary icon
Being appropriately silent, humbled

“It was something completely new for us. We never really discussed all these community problems, and we surely never felt that we could do anything about them. But just talking about it together made us feel like yes, maybe we could do something to make our lives a little easier.”

Let’s not be afraid, hermanas
Elvia is telling us what we know
Then forget

“[The church] wanted us to give food out to the malnourished mothers and children, but they didn’t want us to question why we were malnourished to begin with.”

We get so busy
So distracted
So distant

“But the millions of dollars the gringos send don’t help the poor campesinos. The money isn’t used to create jobs so that everyone can work, Instead the money is for arms, for airplanes, for war tanks. But we don’t eat airplanes, we don’t eat tanks, we don’t eat bullets.The only things we campesinos eat is corn and beans. So what good are all those weapons?”

Her book is a wake up call
Another Kafkan axe
To break open the sea frozen inside us

“Why should there be rich people that have more than they need and poor who don’t have anything? God didn’t plan it that way. He planned for us to be equals.  That’s why we have to build a society where everyone has the right to live a decent life.”

Her testimony is familiar
Like so many of the women and men
Mev interviewed  for The Struggle isOne

“But I still kept coming up against what I thought was our biggest obstacle: the fact that we campesinos didn’t have land to grow our food on. Most of us didn’t have any land; some families had small plots but not big enough to feed themselves. I felt that without land we’d never get out of poverty.”

Like so many women all over the planet
Guatemala and Kenya
Palestine and India

“We collected money to help the family, and after the vigil we went right back to the land. We knew that crying wouldn’t get us anywhere. We had to go back to the land and refuse to leave it. We had to use [Mario’s] death to give us even more courage.”

Solidarity is shared sweat
Shared joy
Shared pain

“It gives us a lot of courage to know we’re not alone in our struggle. There are a lot of professional people, university professors, lawyers, doctors who help us. Lawyers who defend us and don’t charge us a penny. Doctors who treat us for free. Professors who get on the radio denounce the authorities when we get captured.”

Solidarity is joining the struggle
Taking comparable risks here
To the ones the Honduran campesinos take there

“I’d say the best way to show solidarity with us is not by sending food or clothing or dollars. No. Show your solidarity by telling your government that Honduras belongs to the Hondurans. Tell your government to get out of our country and leave us alone. And stand by us in our struggle.”