Hold It All

Month: January, 2016

Share the Wealth with Suzanne Renard: Portals to Humanity–The Joys of Multi-lingualism

One of the most common companion images attached to the word “language,” other than “foreign,” is “barrier.”  Playing to the myth of national unity, American culture in many ways discourages the learning of languages other than English.  In American schools, it’s fashionable to push hard for STEM in the curriculum (science/technology/engineering/math), on the premise that we have fallen behind the rest of the world in those areas.  We forget that we’re even farther behind in language ability.  Our best efforts to encourage foreign language tend to damn with faint praise. (“A second language may help you…with something else!  In International Business, for example.”) Of course, FLEM doesn’t sound nearly as pleasant as STEM…

In most countries of the world, almost everyone speaks more than one language–often several–fluently.  We might have a more enjoyable connection to languages if we could let go of the “barrier” image.  That is the attitude too long wielded by empires to force the language of the victor on the conquered, thereby banishing the collective memory archived in the Mother Tongue.

We could, instead, associate languages with “Portals.”  The diverse languages of the world occupy rooms in the labyrinthine medina of humanity.  Each door opens upon another room, full of unfamiliar vocalizations and the accompanying rush of seductive aromas.  Standing in one room, hearing and smelling the intrigue in the adjoining room, we humans long to communicate. When cultures connect in respectful ways, languages and the memory they hold mingle and mutually enrich each other.

Read the rest of this entry »


A couple friends and I are reading books on Jesus this year. Our first is Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ.

We may also read the Jewish Gnostic/literary scholar Harold Bloom, who has this to say: “Jesus was the greatest of Jewish geniuses. It is as though the Yahwist or J Writer somehow was fused with King David, with the prophets from Amos through Malachi, with the Wisdom authors of Job and Koheleth (Ecclesiastes), with the sages from Hillel through Akiba, and with the long sequence that goes from Maimonides through Spinoza on to Freud and Kafka. Jesus is the Jewish Socrates, and surpasses Plato’s mentor as the supreme master of dark wisdom.”


Julia Brucks is indefatigable, inspirational, passionate, perspicacious, witty and brilliant. An awesome Share the Weatlh!

Julia Brucks

So You Want To Be a Writer by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it. Read the rest of this entry »

A Writing and Reading Course with “Dear Layla”

In this winter/spring course, we will read (or reread) and write on themes from my recent book, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine. Precedent for this method: last spring we used themes from The Book of Mev and last summer poems from Alice Walker as prompts for our own personal and social explorations and investigations.

This time around, some of the topics we may consider include friendship, poetry, anger, commitment, accompaniment, offscripting, dynamics of oppression, letters, modes of solidarity, reading, focus, genres, prophetic interference, reentry, and the transformative power of music and theater. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear 1L

You’re sitting in Civ Pro—
Looking like you’re paying attention
Masking skillfully
Your ho-hum ennui
Let me remind you—
In your deep heart’s core
You can always visit Innisfree
Or even chat with Crazy Jane

Share the Wealth with Julia Brucks: “The Fierce Urgency of Now” – My Journey with St Louis

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time…We must move past indecision to action…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world…The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967, New York City

The St Louis region must imitate the strength of Martin Luther King Junior—move through the human tendency to hesitate and instead make conscious choices to move boldly forward believing in the fierce urgency of now.

For five and half years, I’ve observed the patterns and participated in many of the social movements in St Louis. I will share with you blurred personal and professional reflections of my journey with St Louis beginning with my study of public health disparities at SLU, to my work as an activist with the grassroots community before Ferguson, to my systemic work with the grasstops community after Ferguson.


As a daughter of a community organizer and nurse practitioner, Julia’s passion for social justice and community driven change has deep roots. During her collegiate career, she studied Public Health, French, and International Studies, led the social justice publication, OneWorld Magazine, and worked in Public Affairs at the USDA, for a state representative in North City, and at the Advocacy Department at Catholic Charities. She most recently completed the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and currently works on special projects and regional collective impact efforts at United Way in the Strategic Giving and Innovation Department.


Join us
Sunday 24 January
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Julia begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Savannah Sisk
1817 Thurman
Apartment B
First floor, door on the left
Saint Louis, MO


Julia, on the left

This Makes Me Think of Kathy Kelly

The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live everyday, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it.  The first is easy for many:  accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension:  seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

–Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Yoshida Kenkō, Tsurezuregusa

for Caroline


Going on a journey, whatever the destination, makes you feel suddenly awake and alive to everything.

There are so many new things to see in rustic places and country villages as you wander looking. It is also delightful to send word to those back home in the capital asking for news, and adding reminders to be sure and see to this or that matter.

In such places, you are particularly inclined to be attentive to all you see. You even notice the fine quality of things you’ve brought with you, and someone’s artistic talents or beauty will delight you more than they usually would.

Withdrawing to a retreat at a temple or shrine is also delightful.


–translated by Meredith McKinney

The Way It Looked in 1996

The main intellectual task is to confront the Israeli conscience with the serious human and political claims of the Palestinians:  these require moral, intellectual, cultural attention of the most profound kind, and cannot easily be deflected by the common tactic of putting Israeli security on the same plane.  On the other hand I do think it is a mistake simply to rule out the whole history of anti-Semitism (the Holocaust included) as irrelevant.  As Palestinians and Arabs we have not even tried to study this enormous subject, nor in any serious way have we tried to see how it impinges on the Jewish, and indeed Western, conscience as something all too real. Thus we need a discourse that is intellectually honest and complex enough to deal both with the Palestinian as well as the Jewish experience, recognizing where the claims of one stop and where the other begin.

–Edward Said, The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After