Hold It All

Category: Gatherings

Share the Wealth with Matthew Miller: Rumi, Sufi Path of Love, and the Politics of “Mysticism”

Matthew Miller will lead us in a wide ranging discussion about Persian Sufi poetry. He will touch on the problems with many popular translations of Rumi and explore the “Sufi path of love” by introducing us to a few new Sufi poets who have not received as much popular acclaim in the “West.” Laced throughout this discussion will be a consideration of how the “mystical” and political are intertwined in both liberatory and oppressive ways.

Matthew Miller grew up in Cincinnati, OH, spent many, many years in school in St. Louis at Washington University, and current lives in Washington, DC. His day job is as an assistant professor of Persian literature and digital humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park. In his free time he tries to be a social justice activist and urban farmer, too.

Join us
Sunday 31 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL
Markjchmiel@gmail.com

Drs. Matt Miller, Nima Sheth; Neil Munjal; photo by Dr. Neeta Shenai

Share the Wealth with Sari Althubyani: Ramadan Kareem

Sari will share with us his various experiences of Ramadan, from his homeland in Saudi Arabia to United States in these last few years. Bring your questions or share your own experience of this time of spiritual strengthening, Qur’an reading, and communal solidarity.

Sari will be a senior at Maryville University this fall; among his passions are automobiles and deep sea diving.

Join us
Sunday 24 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL
Markjchmiel@gmail.com

 

Share the Wealth with Jack McAtee: In But Not of The World

During this discussion we will try to make sense of these wild, strange, sad, wonderful, and terrifying times that we currently have the opportunity to live through. I’ll take a critical view on the current state of our democracy and other social institutions that are making life or death decisions on a daily basis. I plan to draw on my own personal experiences from working in and wrestling with Corporate America. I also plan to share how certain spiritual leaders (Thomas Merton, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henry David Thoreau) have helped me along this journey. Then I’ll attempt to share how I try to gently balance those two themes together (suggestions greatly appreciated!).

Jack is a life-long resident of St. Louis. He grew up in a very loving family that he owes the world to. He somehow tricked Saint Louis University into giving him degrees in Economics and Finance. In the roughly four years since graduation, his day-to-day gig has involved working as a bond trader for a local financial services firm. Jack’s next big adventure is to attempt to solo kayak the lower Mississippi River (STL -> New Orleans) in May 2021.

Join us
Sunday 17 May
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL
Markjchmiel@gmail.com

Share the Wealth with Natalie Long… Agrarianism, the Divine, and the Presence of Absence: Reflections on a Trip to Poland

We are living in historic times. The pandemic afflicting the human species is not only a test of the resiliency of people around the world, but also an invitation to examine the insufficiency of existing systems, institutions, and norms that govern human behavior. As I wrestle with understanding the rapidly changing conditions that continue to evolve, I also find myself consumed with a search to understand how human societies must change – often paradigmatically – so as to create worlds that halt destructive behaviors and promote harmonious existence with life in all its forms.

In May 2019, I visited a dear friend who is a professor in Warsaw, Poland. My trip lasted just a bit over two weeks; but, in that short time span, I came away with a handful of rich experiences that continue to generate reflections about how a society chooses, and/or is forced, to organize itself. While reflecting on my trip, three overriding themes emerge that appear present in the Polish population: (i) an ethos of agrarianism; (ii) a pervasive spiritual practice; and (iii) the presence of absence and/or an intimate experience of catastrophe.

My modest goal for this Share the Wealth is to share a few stories from my time in Poland that highlight those themes, with the hope that we might generate a space to imagine briefly how we might change our world, before it is changed for us.
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Share the Wealth with Cami Kasmerchak–Year of the Photograph: A Project to Give Myself Permission to Be Me

At the beginning of 2019 I decided to take the year to explore my passion of photography more deeply through the self-proclaimed “Year of the Photograph.” At the time, I was living in Seattle, WA and used this project as an excuse to go new places, follow my interests, and appreciate the beauty surrounding me. This project gave me the momentum to start my own photography Instagram page and website, which I see as ways to share my works with others. Out of a desire to keep that momentum going, I dubbed 2020 as the “Year of the Portrait.” Although this project has not been off to the start I originally imagined, I hope to find ways to continue growing as a creative during this year. For this Share the Wealth, I will share pictures from both “Year of the Photograph” and “Year of the Portrait,” discuss the impacts these projects have had on me, and open conversation about creative pursuits others are undertaking or hope to in the future.

Cami is a writer, photographer, and avid reader. She is currently pursuing a Master in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. During this social distancing era she has lost all sense of time, enjoys yoga videos from her living room, and is managing to keep all her house plants alive.

Join us
Sunday 19 April
7:00 p.m C.S.T.
Via Zoom
Email me for URL
Markjchmiel@gmail.com

Share the Wealth with Justin Lorenz: Shinkansen, Onsen, & Zen–Japan from the Inside

Allow me to take you on a train ride from Tokyo down to Nagasaki and back, as I did in Japan for three fascinating weeks last fall. Encounter my promotional campaign for the “Pocari Sweat” beverage, make laundry detergent with the L’Arche community in the Shizuoka farmland, visit the lake town of Fujikawaguchiko where I have family residing (and climb Fuji-san), take in “Kirishitan” (underground Christian) and atomic bomb history, check out the firefighting competitions and love hotels of Tokyo, and be changed in even more ways. I’ll welcome stories about Japan that others bring to share as well.

Justin is a Cincinnati native, St. Louis transplant, recreational poet and broomball player, and explorer of worlds inside and outside his lanky 30-something year old body. He studied Social Work and Public Admin at SLU and has spent most of his adult life in L’Arche communities in St. Louis, Mexico, and Florida, where people of diverse abilities befriend and transform each other. He is currently aspiring to manage L’Arche St. Louis’s physical spaces and finances and attempting to charm his way through Missouri’s formidable state bureaucracy.

Join us
Sunday 16 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Justin begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Ellen Curry and Cami Kasmerchak
4256 Botanical Avenue
Apartment #5 [Third Floor]
Saint Louis, MO
63110

Share the Wealth with Jack Renard: Reflections on a Life in Islamic Studies

This sharing will revolve around questions I get frequently: Whatever led you to choose this as an academic specialization? Why does Islamic religious studies matter? What do Islamic religious studies specialists actually study, and what are some tools of the trade? Given all the time and effort you’ve put into this, how can you not want to be a Muslim? (a question on more than a few Muslims’ minds). Has your study of Islam impacted your own religious or other very personal beliefs? You were a Jesuit when you started full-time study of Islam – how did/does that background influence your approach? Any useful hints from the Catholic tradition about this whole business?

About Jack: Born and raised in Saint Louis 1944, joined the Jesuits in 1962, received MA Biblical at SLU Divinity in 1971, PhD in Islamic Studies from Harvard Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations 1978, at SLU since then. Left the Jesuits in 1989, and married Mary Pat Henehan in 1990.

Join us
Sunday 23 February
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Jack begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Lea and Terry
4121 West Pine Boulevard
St. Louis, MO
63108
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Share the Wealth with Jenny Lowe: An Appreciation of Leonard Woolf

Most educated people have read or at least heard of Virginia Woolf, the brilliant modernist writer and member of the Bloomsbury Group whose works include To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own. You may also know of her battles with mental illness and her suicide by drowning in 1941. But what do you know of her husband Leonard? Novelist, journalist, publisher, political historian, advisor to the Labour Party on international affairs, ex-civil servant, atheist, memoirist, avid gardener, and animal lover, Leonard was also a stalwart support to Virginia through her bouts of illness. Virginia’s sister and their Bloomsbury friends believed that she would not have lived long enough to produce any of her famous works had she not married Leonard.

Jenny Lowe is a librarian at Saint Louis University. She and her husband Gregory visited the Woolfs’ house – Monk’s House – in Rodmell, England in 2017, and on their return, both read Leonard’s five-volume memoir with great pleasure. Jenny has also read the 2008 biography by Victoria Glendenning and various other works about Leonard and Virginia and their lives together. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Ale Vazquez: Capturing the Power of Transformation

Healing from heartbreak—of various kinds—is a process that can involve creative practices. In this gathering, Ale will tell of how she has transformed suffering via watercolor, haiku, photography, dialogue, and community as a means to recommitting to self. You are invited to consider and name your own journeys of brokenness becoming beauty, of pain leading to compassion, of mercy you have channeled for yourself.

Ale is a poet, a painter, a music collector, an educator, an astrophysics hobbyist, and an activist. She resides in San Antonio with her books and her paintbrushes.

Join us
Saturday (not Sunday!) 14 December
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Ale begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Ellen Curry and Cami Kaz
4256 Botanical Avenue
Apartment #5 [Third Floor]
Saint Louis, MO
63110

Share the Wealth with Gabriela Keator: Recalculating

If the past year has taught me anything, it is the fact that it is incredibly important to run towards things that are life-giving, even if those things look very different than previously expected. I will share how my experiences in studying Bologna, working with migrants in Rome, and participating in the Mev Puleo Program in San José, Costa Rica this past year made clear to me how much I am called to remain in the United States. My experiences this past semester at Mass at the Border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez and my participation at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington D.C. have only strengthened this fact, leading to a re-evaluation of what it looks like to be a woman for and with others in the context of migration in the United States.

I am a current junior at Saint Louis University majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Immigration and minors in Spanish and Entrepreneurship. I met Mark through my involvement with the Mev Puleo program at Saint Louis University. Read the rest of this entry »