Hold It All


Category: Book of Mev

A More Lively Mode

I read James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson in the summer of 1999. At the time I was gathering materials for what eventually became The Book of Mev.  The following passage from Boswell left its mark on me in that project…

Wherever narrative is necessary to explain, connect, and supply, I furnish it to the best of my abilities; but in the chronological series of Johnson’s life, which I trace as distinctly as I can, year by year, I produce, wherever it is in my power, his own minutes, letters, or conversation, being convinced that this mode is more lively, and will make my readers better acquainted with him, than even most of those were who actually knew him, but could know him only partially; whereas there is here an accumulation of intelligence from various points, by which is character is more fully understood and illustrated.


“To Love Others Is All We Can Do” by Rachel Nass

Rachel 1

Rachel 2

Facebook Wall Post from Chris Hesh, 11.20.2008

I saw a composition notebook
and The Book of Mev
with a college student attached
yesterday night
at the Gelateria.

Mark ‘Omnipresent’ Chmiel

We Inter-Are/458


Mev was inside of me
And so I wrote a book

And Miriam read the book
And Mev was inside of her

And when Miriam was with Johnny
Mev ended up inside of him

Johnny paid attention to Miriam
Miriam was inside of him

Johnny wrote Miriam a love letter
He was inside of Miriam

This kind of thing cannot be controlled
No CIA could interfere with it

This goes to that which goes
To this which goes to that Read the rest of this entry »

The Holy Texture of Life (Hold It All)

By chance yesterday I came  across the following reflection by Emily Warming from 2007, when she was in a Justice and Peace Senior Seminar with Roger Bergman at Creighton University.  I have been blessed and inspired by many Creighton friends, like Emily, who have been deep  readers and enthused hallowers of life.

I was nervous for Mark Chmiel to come to Creighton. Mev only died a week ago for me. I was grieving and it seemed like he were coming to Creighton to help us bury her. How do we talk about this book with this man? How do we even begin to address the flash, the brilliance, the ahh! bright wings of Mev? She so radiated and resonated with us. Presente! She is with us. The book was so personal, so broken open, receptive and burning of suffering and joy, so sacred in some way. The many voices; the concrete manifestations of exhilaration, edification, frustration; the crushing grief; the inexplicable soaring of heart; the hope hope hope made this book breathe with the holy texture of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Wilder Love by April Ulinski

Started rereading The Book of Mev last night. Partially because I needed her reminder that being academic does not mean being disengaged from the world

and from the people behind all those ideas.

Also because I wanted to be near Mev
Though I have never known her.

Thank you for sharing her,
And thank you for sharing you
And the love between the two of you

love draws new dimensions of us love comes to surprise us
Out of our small safe place
Into the wild home we didn’t even think to ask for.

Maybe love is wilder when it is not just for us
But the community too
And loss is love’s coda.

“Do this in remembrance of me”



We Know

In that spring semester course
There were 40 students
The official limit was 35
But I let more in

Before starting The Book of Mev
I asked
“How many of you
Have known someone—

A family member
A friend, a neighbor
A teammate, a teacher
Who experienced any kind of cancer?”

I asked because I was curious
I knew what we all went through
And wrote a book about it
(Part two, anyway)

I reckoned there were students
Who had their own intense experiences
Before their 18th birthdays
Because of what their dear ones underwent

It was a full class that day
40 out of 41 of us raised a hand
We were all citizens and kindred spirits
In the United States of Cancer

Interrupting My Life

Scan 39Scan 40

Alex Gaynor worked this past year with the Jesuit Volunteers and is currently a campus minister at Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia. She participated in the Be in Love with Yr Life and Writing Rejuvenation online classes.

Accompaniment/5 (Letter/6)

from Part Three, The Book of Mev

Monday 5 February 1996

Dear Angie,

And so. Three weeks ago, we buried Mev. So we did. So she is gone. Vanished. Not palpable. Or at least, most of the time.

I think I’ve been pretty good at telling you over the course of the months what was expressed in yesterday’s homily, namely, as far as my theology goes, such as it is, you have been Christ, you showed me that, yeah, it’s maybe, likely that God is love, because you are love, you loved Mev, you loved us, and therefore you are in and of God. Shocking, isn’t it? If you are in and of God, I wouldn’t sweat so much my paper for the American Academy of Religion. Read the rest of this entry »

Feedback, August 2007

…I also mentioned to you something about accessibility: I said that when I read your more final version of The Book of Mev, I was surprised by how accessible the voice was. Yes, it did contain wild mind, junk-and-jewel excursions, but it was mainly stuff that anyone could get fairly easily. I was a bit surprised because some of your original writing on the subject in this book were more of the wild mind literary form.

It’s not that one (wild mind literary) is better than the other (accessibility). But they are different. Perhaps this is why Pat asked you “who is your audience?”  Perhaps this next book* will be less “accessible” than The Book of Mev was. But it strikes me that this stuff about accessibility versus wild mind really comes back to form. I think that once you found your form with The Book of Mev, the voice came with it.


*What became Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine