Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: May, 2017

Realization Stepping outside the House Heading down the Street to the Community College

There are three bodhisattvas
(that I know of)

On the 4500 block
of Chouteau Avenue

Joanie French Chelsea
Jaeger Jean Abbot

Bodhi
Svaha!

When We Were Young

The old days of Enneagram exchanges
The old days of “noisy contemplation”
The old days of Wendell Ford
The old days of the FSLN
The old days of Buzz Parsons
The old days of home-made spring rolls
The old days of 319 Idlewylde Drive
The old days of carpet burns
The old days of Corinto
The old days of Xela
The old days with you
When we were young

Share the Wealth with Lizzie Corcoran

Did you ever invest a lot of time and energy doing something you loved? Do you still do that thing? For the first 18 years of my life, I was trained in classical ballet and modern dance. I want to reflect on the years of my life that I spent learning the discipline of dance and the purpose of creative outlets in our lives.

Lizzie is a recent graduate of Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, transitioning her life from St. Louis to DC to work as a fellow for the de Beaumont Foundation. Lizzie’s favorite things to talk about are as follows: public health, behavioral science, stand-up comedy, racism, white people, community, and which is the best St. Louis brewery.

Join us Sunday 4 June… Potluck diner begins at 6:00 pm, Lizzie begins sharing at 6:45, at her home 4561 Shenandoah, Saint Louis 63110.


This pic is from when I first started dancing. I was 6 years old and we lived in Ireland. That photo was taken right before my first recital.

Learning by Heart, the Joy of Music, and the Power of the Prophetic

Dear Lauren,

I received your letter today about the online Good News class and your hand-written adaptation of Kipling’s famous poem. The fact that you have had “If” as a companion in your work and life at Casa Maria Catholic Worker reminds me of a short book I recently read. It’s titled, A Long Saturday, and it’s a translation of a series of interviews from French between  journalist Laure Adler and literary critic George Steiner.

Steiner was born in 1929. His father had the prescience to move his family out of Europe by 1940, thus escaping the Nazi juggernaut. He went to New York where his teachers included the noted Thomist philosopher Etienne Gilson (whom Dorothy Day probably read at some point!). He later studied at the University of Chicago, was a Rhodes Scholar, worked for The Economist awhile, then joined Princeton’s Center for Advanced Studies. He’s been at various elite universities for decades and published many books (on topics like Antigone, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, translation, Homer). His contemporaries include Elie Wiesel and Noam Chomsky, and I’ve learned a lot from all three. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiritual Passage to India

Love everyone, feed everyone, and remember God.
Neem Karoli Baba

I recently gave Ram Dass’s Be Here Now to Laura,  an exceptional Maryville University  graduate  and psychology major. Previously,  I had mentioned to her that part early in the book about Richard Alpert’s growing disenchantment as an upwardly mobile psychology prof and his eventual breakdown/breakthrough with Neem Karoli Baba (“Maharajji”), who became his guru. I thought she might appreciate both the design of the book and some of the teachings, which she’d probably not come across in upper-level psych courses.

Like Ram Dass a devotee of Maharajji, Parvati Markus has recently compiled ardent testimonies  in Love Everyone: The Transcendent Wisdom of Neem Karoli Baba Told through the Stories of the Westerners Whose Lives He Transformed.  The influential psychologist Daniel Goleman was one of those Westerners, and his experience in India was crucial to developing a more holistic and powerful psychology:  “In the West I had been in the heart of American psychology, and here was a sea of love, totally off the map of Western psychology. It was so clear that we had missed something really important about human abilities, human potential, about the heart. Here was a being who was endless love and presence. It wasn’t some temporary state; it was who he was. That’s what really got me.”

Markus’s book covers the years 1968 to 1973. Many people went  to India at a young age (late teens, early twenties), and eventually returned to the U.S. to integrate what they had experienced in ashrams and following the guru around India. People went into the professions, raised families, got stuck,  got unstuck, achieved fame (e.g., Krishna Das).  All of them had been marked for life by  Maharajji, as the following remarks indicate… Read the rest of this entry »

Where Antiwar Efforts Begin and End by Andrew Wimmer

I received the following reflection from my friend Andrew this morning…

Here is Boeing’s latest press release about fighter jet training capabilities coming to St. Louis.  And Lacy Clay’s (MO 1-D) elation:

“I’m proud that Boeing has trust in the highly skilled workforce in my district, and I look forward to the economic opportunity these jobs will bring for our community and the Missouri supply chain,” added U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, who represents Missouri’s first district that includes Boeing’s St. Louis facility. Read the rest of this entry »

At Home in the World: A Summer Writing Class 2017

Thich Nhat Hanh is regarded by many as one of the most skillful and pragmatic of spiritual teachers. In 2016 he published At Home in the World, a succinct autobiography of his ninety years of life in Vietnam and in exile. Filled with recollections, teachings, and practices, this book will be our guide for getting in touch with our own stories, wisdom, and resources for mindful living.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been a proponent of Engaged Buddhism for over sixty years. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a kindred spirit to the Catholic monk Thomas Merton and Jesuit activist Daniel Berrigan. He is the author of scores of books, including The Miracle of Mindfulness, Being Peace, and Living Buddha, Living Christ. He resides at his community, Plum Village, in France.

Each class session will allow for quiet time, discussion of the book, writing practices, and paired and group sharing. Suggestions will be offered for further writing and experiments in the week between classes. A class blog will be available for sharing the fruits of our reflection, exchange, and writing.

We will meet on the following six Wednesdays: June 14, 21, and 28 and July 5, 12, and 19. You’ll need a copy of At Home in the World and a notebook or laptop. Our meeting time will be 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 at my home, 4514 Chouteau Avenue in Forest Park Southeast (63110).

Tuition is $135.00. An on-line class will also be available for those interested ($75.00). Email me if you want to join us: markjchmiel@gmail.com.


photo by Jim Forest

Thanks, Jack

I first read this in August 2005, a seed
Dear Layla came out in 2015, fruit

That is why I want to use short chapters, each with verselike heading, and very many such chapters; slowly, deeply, moodily unfolding the moody story and its long outreaching voyage into strange space. And to run up a pace of such short chapters till they are like a string of pearls. Not a river-like novel; but a novel like poetry, or rather, a narrative poem, an epos in mosaic, a Kind of Arabesque preoccupation…free to wander from the laws of the “novel” as laid down by Austens and Fieldings into an area of greater spiritual pith (which cannot be reached without this technical device, for me, anyway) where the Wm. Blakes and Melvilles and even spotty, short-chaptered Celine, dwell.

Jack Kerouac, Windblown World:Journals 1947-1951, edited by Douglas Brinkley

Wednesday 10 May: Share the Wealth with Magan Wiles — BECAUSE MY HEART IS HUNGRY FOR YOURS: My Torrid Love Affair With Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango developed in the late 19th century in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, which were teeming with lonely young men from Italy and Spain who crossed the ocean to seek their fortune, never to see their families again.  From this solitude and heartbreak grew the Tango: an improvised social dance with a technique born from the need to create and hold a warm embrace between 2 people.  We’ll talk about the history of Tango; the fascinating particulars of Tango culture; and its practical applications for performers, feminists, practitioners of mindfulness, and anyone interested in becoming better at partnership.

Magan is an actress, tango dancer, and small business owner whose passions all dovetail in an obsession with human connection.  She attended Saint Louis University as a theater undergrad 2004, and begin her professional acting career in St. Louis after graduation.  After completing an MFA in acting at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2012, she moved to New York City where she was miserable for 2 1/2 years.  There she started Hustle Creative, which provides bookkeeping and business management for creative entrepreneurs; booked some decent acting jobs; and began casually dating tango.  She didn’t really fall in love until she moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and began taking classes with Oxygen Tango School that fall.  She frequently visits St. Louis to do plays and will appear in Small Craft Warnings with the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis starting May 3.

Join us
Wednesday 10 May
Potluck supper begins at 6:00 p.m.
Magan begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jessie and Savannah
714 Limit Avenue
Apartment #1N
Saint Louis, M0 63130