Hold It All

Category: Gratitude


I give thanks for translators whose labors allow me to meditate on the teachings of sages throughout time, like David Hinton’s work with  Confucius’s Analects


1.16 The Master said: “Don’t grieve when people fail to recognize your ability. Grieve when you fail to recognize theirs.”

2.4 The Master said: “At fifteen I devoted myself to learning, and at thirty soon firm. At forty I had no doubts,  and at fifty understood the Mandate of Heaven. At sixty I listened in effortless accord. And at seventy I followed the mind’s passing fancies without overstepping any bounds.”

2.6  The Master said: “If you look at their intentions, examine their motives, and scrutinize what brings them contentment—how can people hide who they are? How can they hide who they really are?”

4.14 The Master said: “Don’t worry if you have no position: worry about making yourself worthy of one. Don’t worry if you aren’t known and admired: devote yourself to a life that deserves admiration.” 

4.17  The Master said: “In the presence of sages, you can see how to perfect your thoughts. In the presence of fools, you must awaken yourself.” 

7.22  The Master said: “Out walking with two companions, I’m sure to be in my teacher’s company. The good in one I adopt in myself; the evil in the other I change in myself.

9.4  The Master had freed himself of four things: idle speculation, certainty, inflexibility, and conceit.   Read the rest of this entry »

After Sanders Makes His Endorsement, I Turn to Some Great Reminderers

Those who live by compassion are often canonized.  Those who live by justice are often crucified.  –John Dominic Crossan, Scripture Scholar, USA

Don’t mourn. Organize. –Mother Jones, labor activist, USA

The madness of violence must be recognized, its causes removed, and its implements destroyed. But how can it be done? It can be done by one means only: the manifestation of a better spirit. It is a change of character and conduct through a change of ideas, reason, and good will – these are the only agencies in a civilized age for effecting such changes. – Mohandas Gandhi, lawyer, India

The blood is so much, you know, it runs in rivers. It dries up too; it cakes all over me; sometimes I feel that there is not enough soap in the whole world to cleanse me from the things that I did do in your name. –Davison Budhoo, from his resignation letter to the International Monetary Fund

Responsibility for the poor, exterior to the system, exposes the just person to retaliation by the system, which feels under attack because of its dysfunctionality, openness, and exposure.  For this reason, with inexorable logic the totality persecutes those who in their responsibility for the oppressed testify to the necessity for a new order.  Responsibility is obsession for the other; it is linkage with the other’s exteriority; it entails exposing oneself to traumatization, prison, even death. –Enrique Dussel, philosopher, Argentina & Mexico Read the rest of this entry »

Two Ways of Looking at a Plague…

Ernesto Cardenal, Zero Hour And Other Documentary Poems
New Directions, 1980

Dear Chase & Liz,

The Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal died on March 1. I’m going back over his works this spring under quarantine. I first read Zero Hour in 2008, and it was a godsend, a goad, a glory. A little more than 100 pages, Cardenal’s exteriorismo invites you into a world of injustice, resistance, and revolution, the last of which the U.S. government was determined to kill off, and did by the late 1980s. Translator Robert Print-Mill has this to say: “Cardenal’s recording of the present or the past is aimed at helping to shape the future—involving the reader in the poetic process in order to provoke him into full political commitment, thus fostering the translation of the poet’s more prophetic visions into sociopolitical fact.” Without Cardenal, without this book, I could not have written Dear Layla [see therein, Reading/5 (Subversive/3)]. The following are some passages from several poems that caught my attention…

The Brazilian miracle
Of a Hilton Hotel surrounded by hovels.
The price of things goes up
And the price of people comes down.

We cut through the canyon of windows [in Manhattan] and trillions of dollars

Who is that other monster rising up in the night?
The Chase Manhattan Bank screwing half of humanity.

THE EARTH BELONGS TO EVERYBODY, NOT THE RICH Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa by Candice Simon

Candice shared this with me, and gave me permission to post it here.

January 26, 2020

I am doing well despite the grief and emotional trauma of this month. I truly feel that taking care of grandpa in hospice was pure love. It was one of the hardest and yet easiest things I’ve ever done. It is hard to watch someone die. It reminds us all we too will be there someday.

The loss of my grandfather feels like losing the roots of my family tree, like losing my past. Perhaps its better stated by losing the oldest trees in the forest of my life, a connection to history.

And there are so many things I should have asked him. It’s all gone now, whole chapters of history, dead. I feel a deep yearning for that connection to be reestablished. I lost something I didn’t even know I relied on to help establish who I am and where I am from. He was, in many ways, a homecoming.

I miss his sarcasm and gruff exterior as much as I miss his softness and unbelievable love for me. I don’t believe anyone will ever love me quite the same.

His loss creates a gap in the support I felt I had in this world. You cannot recreate those relationships. As they say, they are one of a kind. Something I didn’t fully appreciate until the loss of it was felt.

The selflessness in his support of me is a commodity that is rare indeed, and something I don’t have in spades. He was a true advocate for and believer in me. He was also my last true connection to many family members I lost contact with through the years. Such a touchstone.

I feel selfish as I write this because my words are about the role he played in my life and about my loss. He is the one who had to do the dirty business of dying. And life continues as normal. It seems to me the whole world should stop spinning for a bit to mourn the loss of such a monument of a man.

I say that, but I haven’t stopped to mourn. It’s too much to deal with all at once, so I grieve in flashes. It’s scary too, a foreshadowing of all the major losses to come in my young life.

It’s a wonder we get through it, and as I write that, I know some don’t. So, even today, in this moment of sorrow, I must remember how lucky I am to know such grief, to have known such love.

For Jenna

Thank you for spending two hours with me at RISE Coffee a week ago.
I look forward to reading your book.


Another Class Is Finished

Appreciation is the sacrament.
—Allen Ginsberg

Another class is finished…the autumn one entitled
“Facing the Future: Resources for a Rebirth of Wonder”

“Rebirth of wonder” comes from lines in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem—
“I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder”

I’m not “awaiting” …I’ve experienced rebirth over and over
From the gathering of friends on and beyond Wise Avenue…

Dianne Lee’s commitment to “Whenever we see or think your name, you exist”
Provokes a more ardent anamnesis

Bill Quick’s ever genial receptivity
Models how to be in a learning environment

Chris Wallach’s intimate connection to Dipa Ma
Shows the way for “concentration, lovingkindness and peace”

Sarah Burkemper’s Nerudean ode to the first cucumber of the summer season
Awakens my amazement at the ordinary Read the rest of this entry »


I spent the afternoon in Benton Park with exuberant Penny Smith  who, last night, pulled out one of her notebooks, opened to a random page and found this advice she’d scribbled down during one of our tête-à-têtes at Northwest Coffee two plus years ago– “Don’t read books by Dostoevsky; read your own journal! — Mark Chmiel”


Share the Wealth 2018

Thanks to my/our friends–those who shared with us, those who hosted, and those who came, opened, and listened. Like my student Anlin, I’m one of the richest people around.

Harvest in Occupied Palestine: Lea Koesterer

My Time in the Philippines:  Hanna Suek

Spiritual Questions, Faith Journeys, and Religious Identities: Savannah Sisk

Ramadan and the Experience of Patience: Ayesha Akhtar

Visions of Social Work: Some Food for Thought—Ashaki Jackson Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Share the Wealth with Barbara and Suzy–Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones: Friendship Soul Partnering

Suzy Shepard and Barbara Sheets met in 1975 at a play-in start-up group for newborns and their mothers. Nothing could have prepared Suzy and Barb more for coping in life than what followed – leaving the formal play-in group and deciding to meet together weekly for forty-three years and counting. Suzy became a social worker and mother of four and Barbara a yoga instructor and mother of five. Through humor and tears, they tell the story of true love friendship soul partnering — the heroes’ tale of coping with career, parenting, marriage, politics and death. Bring your funny bone, Kleenex and seat belt to this meeting about turning life’s stumbling blocks into stepping stones and doing this through a friendship soul partnering. The model may be worth copying.

Join us
SATURDAY 1 December
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Barbara and Suzy begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Christine Wallach
5 E. Lake Road
Fenton, MO
63026 Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Nicole McLaughlin: How Medical School Has Made Me Healthier – Wellness, Unity and Gratitude

Nicole is a second year medical student at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, a medical program well-known for its curricular changes and focus on wellness that serve to improve students’ mental health during their four years. Prior to beginning medical school, Nicole imagined the toughest years of her life, as many of us do before beginning a stressful, grueling challenge. She imagined sleeping minimally, overwhelming competitiveness with her fellow students, loss of human contact and a survival mentality. Instead, she is happy to share quite the opposite, and feels that she is the healthiest and happiest she has ever been.

In this Share the Wealth, we will explore the themes of wellness, unity and gratitude and while Nicole will explore these topics in her experiences with medicine and health, she hopes to lay the foundation for deeper reflection outside of the realm of medical education and health care professions. She is grateful for the muses, mantras, and inspirations that have served her in medical school thus far. They not only inform the type of physician she aspires to be, but more globally, the person she hopes to be. Read the rest of this entry »