Hold It All

Category: Mev Puleo

“Be in Love with Yr Life” — A Online Summer Writing Course with The Book of Mev*

From time to time I’ve learned how some readers of The Book of Mev recognize themselves in Mev Puleo’s words, say, from her letters and journals. They remind of the French novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote: “In reality every reader is, while she is reading, the reader of her own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable her to discern what, without this book, she could perhaps never have perceived in herself.”

In this late summer-early fall writing class, I invite you to read (or reread) and write off of stories, themes, and questions from The Book of Mev. We’ll explore topics like being present, community, accompaniment, faith, spirituality, the state of the world, the state of the soul,  friends, mentors, teachers, creative arts (e.g., photography), travel, breakdowns, breakthroughs, illness, celebrating, grieving, letting go, poetry, El Salvador, Palestine, Haiti, schools, gospels, letter-writing, gratitude, bearing witness, and much else.

We go  for eight sessions,  from Sunday 20 August to Sunday 8 October.  Each Sunday I will email participants an agenda  to direct reading, writing, and sharing in the week ahead.

Time Commitment:  You’ll need approximately 1 to 2 hours a week, more if you have the energy.  It’s not necessary to do an entire agenda in one sitting; feel free to space it out over the week. Read the rest of this entry »


The Good News of Remembering, 3.18.2017

Yesterday I caught up with Liz Burkemper, home for spring break from her first year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Liz inspires me with her aspiration to simplify her life and take time for contemplation. I told her I was grateful for her remembering Mev and her Brazil message  at some of the vast and lively protests she participated in in January and February.

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

Rachel 1

Rachel 2

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”



Interrupting My Life

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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 »

From the Archives: Hello from Camden!

Hey Dr. Chmiel! Hope the new school year is treating you well! I thought of you the other day because I was perusing my bookcase (which, by the way, I’m doing JVC in Camden, NJ this year, so we have a stocked bookcase of a bagillion different cool books) and I came across Faces of Poverty with the wonderful Mev Puleo as its photographer! It made me really excited because as I was reading The Book of Mev, I had always wanted to see the book that she had worked on… Anyway, just thought I’d let you know that Mev has a presence in Camden! (It was also cool to see that one of the pictures she took was in Camden! It’s the one with the two billboards, one of Virginia Slims and the other about praying…)

Have a good weekend!!

Stephanie Kirvus

Sounds like a Three on the Enneagram

mev-redwoods“I have an energetic personality. I love and want to get along with people. I am unusually joyous. I have strong convictions. My weaknesses are the flip-sides of my strengths. I can be domineering and not invite others. My extrovertedness can squelch others’ initiatives. I often interrupt others in heated discussions. Often times I am proud rather than grateful. I am prone to seek admiration.”

— Mev Puleo




Ale’s Walls

Ale Vazquez sent me this text and photo:

Mev in my room–I just put them up yesterday! And now when I look at them I think of you and Mev and Angelica and México and la lucha and como estoy/estamos manifestando el derecho de vivir en paz and loved ones that make my heart happy

ale-mev-photosMev’s photographs on Ale’s walls; San Antonio, Texas