Hold It All

Month: January, 2015

Cheer Up

Hungry ghosts are everywhere
But bodhisattvas are everywhere too

Suffering is everywhere
But the transnational sangha is everywhere too

February First Share the Wealth with Natalie Yule: A Life in Construction

When I say the word “Construction,” what is the first thing that pops into your mind? For some folks this word may invoke thoughts of being stuck in traffic on the highway, then being late to work or a meeting…due to the annoyance of too often unanticipated, darn “Construction.” What a hassle! Then for others the word “Construction” may invoke a caricatured mental image of that stereotypical “blue collar” worker who definitely curses like a sailor.  Do these thoughts ring true for any of you? If not, I’m certain that there may be others of you who hear the word “Construction,” and, in contrast, it invokes nostalgia. Maybe you have a father or friend who worked diligently in a trade and maybe you admired them for it.

For me, however, “Construction” represents creativity, art, perseverance, excellence, solving problems, the challenging of gender and racial stereotypes, reward, and, more significantly, an incredible opportunity to connect with others from all walks of life (from fellow carpenters to customers). As a female, 1% minority member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, I have quite simply fallen in love with building. Becoming a full-time, professional carpenter was not my original life plan, but it is my niche, and I have zero regrets. I feel blessed by this request to share my stories with you. My occupation, the opportunities that have come with it, and the interactions I’ve been so fortunate to have with others have literally been a gift to me nearly every day I lace up my work boots. I hope that through sharing my journey and experiences, and answering any of your questions, I am somehow able to give back a small portion of that gift.

Join us
Sunday 1 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede
Central West End

Natalie Yule
Ballpark Village


It came to my attention
Just in the last week or so
That Tony Albrecht saw The Book of Mev on the Arandas’ bookshelves, borrowed it, and started reading it
Abbie Amico is going over Faces of Poverty Faces of Christ
Liz Vestal gave her sister Hannah The Book of Mev to read and she is
Nebu Kolenchery encouraged Lizzie Corcoran to read The Book of Mev and she did
Carol Wright found her mother’s copy of Faces of Poverty Faces of Christ at her sister’s home in Kentucky, and brought it back to Saint Louis to read
Cami Kasmerchak read The Book of Mev for the third time over winter break  and sent me a long letter about it

Remembering the Dead/1

Dear Bella Levenshteyn

I take long walks with Joel in the park
The other day he told me about one of his  practices

Like some of our friends do yoga
Others  swear by their vipassana meditation

But early in the morning he goes on-line
Pulls up the web site

Types in a name
Hits “return” and views

All the “Rokhl”s that appear
Or all the “Yitshok”s

All the “Goldshteyn”s
Or all the “Salzman”s

It’s a short but daily practice
When for 10 minutes

He slowly reads aloud
The names on the screen

First name
Last name

Of those men women and children who were killed
During Nazism’s 12 years of terror

He’s been doing it for a couple of years
Trying to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness


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

Share the Wealth with Matt Hubbard: The Journey of a Young Adventurer

I will talk about my journey the last few years since graduating college and my experiences that have transformed my life, including my time on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana and at Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia and now as a Freelance Adventurer in North St. Louis.

I believe in the power of stories and during my History degree at UMSL, and since, I have heard many stories of the destruction of people and the Earth. So I want to tell a different story. I want to be a part of a story. A story so ancient that to many people it seems brand new. I want to tell the stories of my search for compassionate community.

Join us
Sunday 25 January
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Matt begins sharing at 6:45
At Sophia House
4547 Gibson Avenue
Forest Park Southeast

Check out Matt’s blog!


A Message from Dr. Zeina Kiblawi:

Finally made it to our hotel, after a 7 hour detainment and repeated (insulting and meaningless) interrogations at Tel Aviv airport. Apparently, the desire to help Palestinian neonates is a “security threat.” They can detain me and harass me for 7 days, I will still assert my right to return to my homeland.

Then and Now

Why had I never noticed the number of sick who appear in the Gospels? Who or what made them sick? Political oppression, legal degradation, economic plunder, and religious neutrality …. Extreme misery prevailed within this pax romana. When you consider the New Testament as a whole, it  is truly astonishing how many sick people abound, how they are gravely and incurably ill, the paralyzed, and the psychically ill, who are connected with demons, on nearly every page of this book. Sickness, misery, despair, and hopelessness seethed everywhere on the edges of this empire, where the poor lived.

–Dorothee Sölle, On Earth as It Is in Heaven: A Liberation Spirituality of Sharing


Dear Bella Levenshteyn.
I just wrote you a love letter.

Stamped and licked the envelope.
I loved writing it.

Loved thinking about you.
Loved thanking you.

Love that a pol-sci major has become such a poetic force.
Love that in my imagination you’re already and justifiably famous.

Love that you write and fling the results out into the world.
Love your brave warrior being.

Love that you are saving America one poem at a time.
Love that you are loving Americans one smile at a time.

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

Consider the Source

The Pentagon will gladly supply, on request, such information as the quantity of ordnance expended in Vietnam. From 1965 through 1969 this amounts to about 4.5 million tons by aerial bombardment. This is nine times the tonnage of bombing in the entire Pacific theater in World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki—“over 70 tons of bombs for every square mile of Vietnam, North and South… about 500 pounds of bombs for every man, woman and child in Vietnam.” The total of “ordnance expended” is more than doubled when ground and naval attacks are taken into account. With no further information than this, a person who has not lost his senses must realize that the war is an overwhelming atrocity.

–Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia, 1970

Monkey Mind

Dear Bella Levenshteyn
Do you ever have one of those days

When you swing from wanting
One thing to another

Days like I seem to have with such frequency
I know for sure I’m meshugah

One hour I want to read the collected works of I.B. Singer
In the original Yiddish

The next hour I want to give 20 hours a week
To helping the refugees with their English

Then later in the day thinking of our friends who spoke on mindfulness
I know I should meditate 4 hours a day

By the next morning my mind is made up
“I vant to be alone!”

But by noon
I declare: “I want to be with others!”

It seems I vacillate about everything
Except you

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