Hold It All

Month: October, 2015

Just Like Me

HHDL Loyola

Jeffrey Hopkins, the Dalai Lama’s translator for ten years, tells a story about traveling with him in the West. Wherever he went, His Holiness would repeat in English, “Everyone wants happiness, doesn’t want suffering.” He would go to an airport or a lecture hall or a news conference and say, “Everyone wants happiness, doesn’t want suffering.” At first Jeffrey thought, “Why does he keep saying this?” because it seemed so simplistic and ordinary. But after a while the message began to sink in, and he thought, “Yes, I need that!” It is simple, but it is also profoundly true, and it was exactly the kind of teaching he needed to hear.

The equality practice is simply to remember this fact whenever you meet another person. You think, “Just like me, she wants to be happy; she does’t want to suffer.” You might choose to practice this for a whole day, or maybe for just an hour or fifteen minutes. I really appreciate this practice, because it lifts the barrier of indifference to other people’s joy, to their private pain, and to their wonderful uniqueness.”—Pema Chodron, Tonglen: The Path of Transformation (2001).

Share the Wealth with Te Martin: The Wisdom of Silence, Pilgrimage, and a Compost Pile– Reflections on Summer

Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come. -Rumi

This Sunday, I’ll share my reflections from this past summer, including time spent on a 21-day silent retreat, on a farm in Missouri, and on a pilgrimage to Ireland. I’ll discuss how creativity, poetry, and earth-wisdom have shaped (and continue to shape) me.

I’m currently a senior at SLU majoring in Theology and International Studies and minoring in Environmental Science and Urban Poverty Studies.

Join us this Sunday 1 November
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Theresa begins sharing at 6:45
At her home
Contact me for street info

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine
Rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
Not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but

When you really look for me, you will see me
You will find me in the tiniest house of time.

Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath. -Kabir

Invitation to Memory of Fire Global Reading Circle

Danielle Mackey and I invite you to join us in reading, reflecting, and writing on Eduardo Galeano’s trilogy, Memory of Fire: Genesis, Faces & Masks, and Century of the Wind, a total  of 911 pages.

You have to be willing to confront the histories of the Americas as told by a dissident journalist and savorer of stories.

Commit to one hour of reading and writing a week.

Read 10-20 pages a week of Galeano.

Write at least a paragraph or several lines in response: What emotions, memories, people, connections did the reading trigger for you?

Post at a blog and make comments on other people’s posts.

We propose this unusual approach: start from the end of volume three (Century of the Wind) and move backward in time. The reason for this—most people who would be interested in the subject matter are most likely familiar—because of their own experiences in Latin America—with recent history. Start from there and learn more about the past.

I can make the weekly reading selections and encourage participants to share and connect.

I propose the first posts be done on 11.16.2015, which would mean starting 11.09.2015 with the first reading assignment.

Please send me a message if you want to participate: Markjchmiel@gmail.com

Chiapas, 1983; photo by Mev


I’m grateful for friends who came to Sophia House to join me in reading chapters from and engaging in discussions on Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine  on Saturday 24 October.

Our local coordinator
(My teacher) Murad
(Half my age)
Greets me each morning
With a half-smile
“Habibi, we have another day
Let’s not waste it”


DL Signing

James Baldwin card

“Don’t Be Frivolous”

This morning at sangha at Sophia House, we distributed at random lojong slogan  cards and reflected on ones we received.  One of mine was #58, Don’t be frivolous,” which reminds me of the following recollection of Dipa Ma by Carol Wilson:

She made it clear that if you want to do it, you can do it if the commitment is there. For her, there was never a reason not to sit. She just didn’t understand why we wouldn’t always be practicing. Socializing was out of the question. Gossip and junk novels, no way!

–Amy Schmidt, Dipa Ma: The Life and Teachings of a Buddhist Master 

When Grades Are Less than Everything

Here is Lubna Alam reading a chapter from Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine.


Lubna When Grades Are


I believe it’s a thousand year project; I don’t think this thing is going to be finished in my lifetime or in anybody’s lifetime. I think we possibly can get something started that will open doors, start currents, generate energies. When I was reminded by the Vietnamese that their revolution is really a thousand years old, that they have been an occupied people for the longest stretches of that history, that they are only the most recent heirs to a struggle, I felt that they were saying something important.
–Daniel Berrigan, The Geography of Faith

Life Is with People

A world of images is offered by Christ —  better, dramatized by him — images of waiting, listening, observing, debating, healing, conveying hope and humor, telling stories than end with a question lodged like a seed in the heart.

–Daniel Berrigan, Isaiah:  Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears


Dear Layla

Back home it’s common to hear people ask
“Why Are They So Enraged?”
It might have something to do

With being unemployed for 17 months and five days, or
With burying two children, compliments of Israel’s shelling, or
With seeing a son slapped around until he did the most shameful things in order to make them stop, or

With feeling hunger pangs for five days out of seven, or
With seeing a fishing partner shot by the Israeli navy, he must have been a terrorist, he was going to hurl fish at Jews on a Tel Aviv bus, or
With cringing before a mother’s expressionless face, drained of life since her son died in detention, or

With missing 50% of one’s classes, because of checkpoints, roadblocks, curfews, closure, IDF whimsy, or
With having to show the soldiers one’s naked torso, at least—on average—14 times a week, or
With knowing that the Tel Aviv beaches are packed, life goes on, even as you rot, or

With believing that no one—the Arab states, “good people abroad,” the worldwide umma—gives a shit, or
With sitting at the Engineers Club with six of your friends—all of you educated, trained, talented, and imprisoned (like everybody else in Gaza), or
With taking a sponge bath from a bucket every four days, while the colonialists’ swimming pools are providing loads of splashy laughs

With ache and awe for these people,



–from the novel, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine