Memories can be sweet or bitter, and sometimes both. This goes for collective memory, those stories and recollections of a people that provide meaning for us in our culture, and it goes for the individual. Whether we think of a holiday like Thanksgiving and all its ambivalences that we had this week, or whether it’s the remembered experiences that shape us as individuals, our emotional centers bring us back, again and again, to places of joy and pain. Can we use all of them to move into a better place, a place of wholeness and healing?
“We are a nation of immigrants.” We’ve heard it so often, and of course it’s true. Yet it’s not just Americans but all people everywhere who are travelers and seekers, as far back as we can trace. Whence comes this constant searching? Where do we come from and why? Is it for food, for freedom, to scratch an itch, or satisfy an ill-defined yearning? And when will we ever be at home? And perhaps the greatest question of all, being strangers ourselves, how will we treat our fellow travelers?
Sometimes we miss the greatest beauty because we are looking in the wrong places. Our attention is too easily distracted by the noise and flashing images of our media-drenched culture. We are swamped and a little brain-washed by the ideals Madison Avenue uses to sell, sell, sell. But then certain people and experiences cut through the din. They can show us what true beauty is and how to create a beautiful life that affects all who come near its orbit. Merlin Snider will talk about such moments and lives, and one life in particular that has deeply touched him.