Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Light Shines


I grew up in a semi-rural community just outside of Detroit.  My mom worked as a clerk in the building department at city hall and wrote poetry and political satire at night.  My dad drove a truck.  We lived in an old farmhouse on a couple acres of land, just far enough away from the neighbors, she always said, on a mile square tract of fields plowed with rows of corn and soybean and bisected by the old county ditch running through it.  

Bleakness hung in the air. There was a perpetual cloud over the house, not quite darkness nor yet cloudburst that might flush away the blue-collar gloom, but instead a paradox of inchoate form and overfullness that never gave birth hanging heavy with the smell of boiling cabbage, gravel and ash, axle grease and dirt.

Wintertime was my favorite season.  The bare trees standing in the oblique light expressed something inside me that I could not.  I was the immigrant’s daughter, my father from a land across an ocean, whose grandmothers had stood upon a black earth “sown with bones and watered with blood” in the catastrophe that had befallen Europe between Stalin and Hitler.

It was impossible to turn a blind eye to suffering and to the dark world of the human heart.  One could see it sometime in the people, those who sought money and power and held a hand over the bent heads of others.  My father would point it out, commenting in his oblique way, “the hand goes to the mouth.”  And I felt the shame of being human, trying to recall the better parts of myself, knowing darkness was there in all of us. 

What is wisdom?  What is noble?

St. Augustine said that God gave man memory so that he might find the light inside him through the act of remembering.
If we remember that we have forgotten something, we have not forgotten it entirely.  But if we have forgotten altogether, we shall not be in a position to search for it."
Remembering leads back to a beginning, to the truth, as we recall the steps we took that got us where we are.

4 comments:

Marianne Liggett said...

That is just beautiful and speaks volumes. Thank you for your enlightening words of wisdom.
Love,
M

The Red Coat Writer said...

Thank you, Marianne!

Cynthia Wylie said...

I want more. It made me want to buy your poster even more. So I did. Thanks for sharing your story.

The Red Coat Writer said...

Thank you for being a shining light in my life, Cynthia.