Hold It All

Month: March, 2020

Facing The Facts/4

Reminiscence from Sister Marian Cowan, Mev’s spiritual director

It was with deep pain that I recall the two calls in which Mev informed me of her brain tumor and subsequently asked me to be present with her in California for the surgery.  I was humbled once again to be one of the few persons Mev really wanted to bring out to be with her.  I am so grateful to have been included.  We celebrated Mass, we prayed, we waited, we walked and we waited some more.  Not until Mev had come through the surgery and we saw her sitting up and talking were we able to leave her and return to our own cities again.  

During the time that Mev and Mark continued to live in Berkeley, we chatted a little more often, and I was always filled with sadness afterward. Then they moved to Saint Louis.  This gave me greater opportunity to see Mev and visit with her.  I traveled a lot during that time, and I was also assisting another friend as she moved through cancer, so I was not able to see Mev as often as I desired. Mev’s disease continued to take its toll on her body, so that each time I saw her, I was shocked at the progress of physical debilitation.  Yet her spirit was radiant, as always.  This does not mean she did not feel all the emotions proper to her condition.  She did. And Mark and others helped her to express them.  For most of November and December, I was at last able to take a regular time to sit with Mev and assist in her care.  This was a privilege for me.

My other friend became very ill while she was in Arkansas, and she died on November 10. I gave myself a week to deal with this reality before again trying to be with Mev. I became so frustrated when each time I went to the house I was met with the note [sign on the front door] asking folks to come back later.  I felt a great urgency to see Mev and to spend some quality time with her.  Mark responded to the notes I left, telling me to come on in the next time, which I did.  This was the day that is impressed in my memory for all time. Read the rest of this entry »

I See You by Rachel Dratnol

To my fellow OTs,
the PTs and SLPs,
the nurses and NPs,
the PCTs and unit clerks,
the case managers and social workers,
the MDs and PAs,
the respiratory therapists and patient transporters,
the environmental services and engineering staff,
the lab and imaging techs,
the security team, valet workers, and parking garage staff,
the admin assistants, MAs, and front desk staff,
the cafeteria, Cafe, and ABP workers,
the volunteers, students and university faculty and staff,
the hospital leadership:
I see you. Coming to work. Self-monitoring. Donning the face mask, hospital-issued scrubs, yellow gown, gloves, and goggles. Conserving that valuable PPE as much as you can. Washing your hands – more times than you can count. Treating and caring for your patients to the best of your abilities. Practicing your craft via telehealth for the very first time. Socially distancing from your coworkers as you type your notes. Reading your email to learn what the numbers are that day and how the hospital is responding. Cleaning rooms, equipment, beds, and every other surface anyone comes into contact with. Discharging your patients to the safest place for them as soon as they are well enough. Doing the work that was not originally in your job description. Switching to a completely different role as the hospital needs. Working hard to make sure we flatten the curve and save as many lives as possible. Planning for something we know is coming but are not exactly certain to what extent. Transforming the hospital into something greater than we ever imagined. Read the rest of this entry »

The Imperative To Remember


Anyone who does not actively, constantly engage in remembering and in making others remember is an accomplice of the enemy. Conversely, whoever opposes the enemy must take the side of his victims and communicate their tales, tales of solitude and despair, tales of silence and defiance.
–Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, v.2 [1977]


… it is still possible by patient reconstruction of the factual record to know the truth about what happened in Gaza. Out of respect for the memory of those who perished during Operation Cast Lead, this truth must be preserved and protected from its assassins.
–Norman Finkelstein, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom [2018] Read the rest of this entry »

A Meditation on History by Vasily Grossman

Can we call someone a great man if he has not brought into people’s lives a single atom of good, a single atom of freedom and intelligence?

Can we call someone a great man if he has left behind him only ashes, ruins and congealed blood, only poverty and the stench of racism, only the graves of the countless children and old people he has killed?

Can we call someone a great man because his unusual intelligence, able to detect and co-opt every dark and reactionary force, proved as virulent and destructive as the bacteria of bubonic plague?

The twentieth century is a critical and dangerous time for humanity. It is time for intelligent people to renounce, once and for all, the thoughtless and sentimental habit of admiring a criminal if the scope of his criminality is vast enough, of admiring an arsonist if he sets fire not to a village hut but to capital cities, of tolerating a demagogue if he deceives not just an uneducated lad from a village but entire nations, of pardoning a murderer because he has killed not one individual but millions. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullet the Blue Sky

But most men, it seems to me, do not care for Nature and would sell their share in all her beauty, as long as they may live, for a stated sum—many for a glass of rum. Thank God, men cannot as yet fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth! We are safe on that side for the present.
–Henry David Thoreau

Hope’s Beautiful Daughters: A Spring & Summer Class


Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
— Saint Augustine

Why repeat the facts—they cover up our feelings. The development of these feelings, the spilling of these feelings past the  facts, is what fascinates me. I try to find them, collect them, protect them.
—Svetlana Alexievich

The truth is that I simply did not understand why anyone would want to violate the rights of others or to ruin the environment. Why would someone destroy the only forest left in the city and give it to friends and political supporters to build expensive houses and golf courses?
—Wangari Maathai

Our strategy should be not only to confront Empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer recklessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
—Arundhati Roy

Writing is essential to my life, like breathing. I can live without a husband but I cannot live without writing. By writing I become one with the world and with myself.
—Nawal El Saadawi

In this class we will get (re)acquainted with some of the world’s great writers, activists, dissidents, Nobel Laureates, investigators, critics, chroniclers, and healers of our time. We will meet twice a month on Wednesdays via Zoom over six months, reading and reflecting on one book each month. Among the themes we will explore are reverence for life, compassion/accompaniment, questioning authority, dangerous memory, structural violence, and deep listening.

Read the rest of this entry »

Think Small

Today my friend Lucy, an ICU nurse in Idaho, sent me a text expressing her gratitude for the solace she received from a very short chapter in my book, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine.


Recent Tweets by AOC

The cruise industry registers as foreign companies to avoid paying US taxes. Now they want US bailout money.

Now the same Republicans who say immigrants who pay US taxes shouldn’t get help are bending over backwards to give Money-mouth face to foreign companies who DON’T pay taxes.


Read the rest of this entry »

My Nocturnal Pleasure…

Reading Lauren Sharpe.




Beautiful Anarchists

Howard Zinn, Emma: A Play in Two Acts About Emma Goldman, American Anarchist

Those photos of Dorothy Day—
Like the one you saw in the office at the Catholic Woker
Where you were first scouted as a model
By Antoinette six years ago now—
Dotties’s scowling, old, weathered, as if she’s saying,
“Don’t have too much fun
Don’t you know people are being crucified even now
“By this filthy rotten system
While you are playing hackey sack?” Read the rest of this entry »