MERI Center Blog

Finding Connection

While 2020 continues to pile catastrophes and crises upon us, I am buoyed by the connections I am seeing, hearing, and feeling.  As another fire ravages the North Bay, one of our poetry group members offered his home to someone who may need to evacuate.  Another member, from Sweden, expressed concern for the safety of those living in the area and are being affected by the fires and smoke.  Separated by miles, by continents, by the pandemic, we still form connections, we still care about each other, and we still reach out to support each other. 
I am immensely grateful for these connections, knowing that these tendrils of support can snake through and around all of these obstacles placed before us and provide comfort and care. These connections come in so many forms: poems, text, emails, songs, art, even in our dreams.  They can twine together with others forming stronger supports, reminding us we are not alone even when we are by ourselves. 
We are pleased to announce a special event for in honor and memory of a dear friend, Merijane Block.  I met Merijane many years ago when she started seeing Dr. Rabow in the UCSF Symptom Management Service, an outpatient palliative care clinic for cancer patients.  We had many delightful conversations as she waited for her visit and soon she became more than one of our patients, she became a friend.  Merijane demanded that all of her providers treat her as a person and not as a disease or problem to solve, to form a connection, a deep, meaningful connection, with her and all of their patients.  When the MERI Center was created, we purposefully chose MERI (Making Education Relevant and Integrated) to honor Merijane.  On Thursday, October 29th, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM PDT, we honor her again, with a virtual book launch for Merijane’s book “Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Should or Thought It Would Except Your Life”, posthumously edited by her friends.  PLEASE JOIN her friends and loved ones in reading and celebrating her work and her legacy!
We also want to announce and share our own (digital) publication, “The Poems That Flow Through Us”, a compilation of poems written in our Food for Thought and Loss, Losing, and Loosening Poetry cafes. In these workshops, we ask participants what resonates about the poems we use as prompts as well as the poems we write from the prompts.  In laying out this collection, I tried to find images that resonated in me while reading them.  We hope that you enjoy the poems as much as we have and that you find lines that resonate within you. Going forward, we hope to compile and publish poems quarterly. 
With every workshop the MERI Center presents, we meet new people, form new connections, and grow this amazing community.  We hope that you will join us in one of our upcoming workshops and make those connections.

All our best,
The UCSF MERI Center