Dear Layla, Dear Mark by Abbey Fox
by Mark Chmiel
Per usual, I devoured your latest release. YOUR WRITING INSPIRES ME SO DEEPLY. It inspires me to take a moment and notice the tiny things that are the fabric of life and how they are so connected to the largest, biggest things too. (everything is everything/everything is nothing). Your voice and your style is something that makes me think “hey, maybe I should write about my experiences too” and wonder “how could I write about those experiences like Mark!”
I felt compelled to reach out and thank you for sending this to me. I appreciate your generosity so deeply. We’ve never even met in person (!!) but I feel like I know you. I am so appreciative of that.
And, Palestine. Oh, Palestine! This book reminded me of that place. When I first arrived in Chicago about eight years ago I worked on Palestine liberation activism with the American Friends Service Committee and befriended the Jews for Justice in Palestine. And then –I got too busy, sidetracked by other projects –and Palestine fell to the wayside. This book gave me renewed commitment. I’m also planning on passing it along to at least four friends (one who will be in the West Bank this summer). So thank you, again, for writing this.
And did I sense some Pema Chödron influenced writing? I have delved deeply into the Shambhala Buddhist linneage in the past two years and was able to serve her in person this past April. What a beautiful soul. Buddhism has been an incredibly journey – I think I’ve found my spiritual home.
Finally, I know that you teach writing/spiritual/social justice types courses in St Louis. Oh how i want to learn from you and the people you invite to those classes! However, I am here in Chicago. I was wondering if there was a way to do so remotely – or if you knew of folks here in Chicago that do similar work for “non-students”? I would be honored to participate.
The biggest hug ever and immense gratitude,
PS Also, as you know, for some reason, I cannot read your work without connecting it to some important song in my life, so I offer you Yael Naim’s “New Soul.” This is a song that helped me a lot my first year in Chicago and I return to it every time I feel like I should have it all figured out — because the reality is —- we’re all such newbies doing this human thing.