Marilynne Robinson is one of our greatest treasures — a fabulous novelist and a dynamic, complex thinker. During an interview with The Paris Review, she said:
"To think that only faultless people are worthwhile seems like an incredible exclusion of almost everything of deep value in the human saga."
"My aunt said to me, 'It is not seemly for mere mortals to be perfect.' I hold onto this."
Her aunt is spot on.
On the day of the bombings in Boston, we remained fairly quiet as news reports came out. (Read this excellent guide on tweeting during a crisis from Slate's Jeremy Stahl.) And we continue to do so.
But, as the days and events progress, we are finding some slivers of light and language to offer in these dark hours. As Krista (@kristatippett) so eloquently tweeted today:
Social tragedy begins in human tragedy, in one life, and ripples out from there.
But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the
sea includes the entire world in the circle.
And, each evening during the work week, we pair an incredible image with inspiring words and wise sayings — like this passage from the novelist John Steinbeck from The Winter of Our Discontent (photo by Pras Dunn):
"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone."
It's the enterprising, creative minds of this world who provide the most exquisite examples of solidarity when adversity confronts us as a people. Artists projected these illuminated messages of hope on the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music — with these comforting words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."
Tuesday also marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." For whatever inexcusable reason — and I'm quite embarrassed to admit this — I had never read his full letter from start to finish. These lines seemed to resonate with a large number people this day:
"Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust."
This seems like a good time for a musical interlude: "The Message Bearer" by Hamza El Din. A meditative mix of oud and vocals that is a great way to start and end any day.
The American choreographer Bill T. Jones has been on our "big list," as we call it, of conversation partners for quite some time. We even had an interview scheduled with him last spring while he was at the Walker Art Center.
It didn't happen. Oh, we will do so one day though... *smile*
There are so many facets to explore with him, including identity, as he reminds me in this recent Q&A with Oliver Sacks:
"When I'm trying to explain to people what I think is grand and noble about movement, I say that the reason it is our most valuable connector as human beings is because that person onstage, who has a body similar to ours, is using that body in proxy for us. That kind of transference and connection is a very poetic way of saying something that I think the doctor's given his life to understanding: how an idea about movement can actually be felt. This fact is the way that I've been able to deal with issues of identity."
"Spirituality doesn't look like sitting down and meditating. Spirituality looks like folding the towels in a sweet way and talking kindly to the people in the family even though you've had a long day.
It's enfolded into the act of parenting. You fold the towels in a sweet way. It doesn't take extra time."
And, yes, we just received another six inches of oversaturated snow… in mid-April. We continue to imagine days of blooming Prairiefire crabapple trees and magnolia blossoms.