The day the 45th president took office marked the third anniversary of the death of my husband of 46 years.
Reflecting on 2016 and the many dear ones we lost in Homer, it seems fitting to quote the closing sentence from The Big Read’s selection this year, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” by Thornton Wilder.
“But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love.
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Friends of the Homer Public Library, volunteer writers and thespians in Homer, teachers, students at Homer High School, and employees of the library have collaborated, with foresight and philanthropy, to make this year’s Big Read as relevant as possible for all of us.
Who of us is untouched by death?
Who of us is untouched by the gift of life? It is good for us as a community to reflect on what we have, what we might become and how to do that.
It seems as we live with changing climate and it rains on Christmas Eve turning our town into a sheet of ice, all of us wonder what this means when other parts of the United States live in a deep freeze with record amount of snowfall, brutal winds, deluge of rain in a few hours, snow and cold as far south as Atlanta, Ga. So many changes. So much chaos. It’s good for us as community to come together, read an important piece of writing, discuss it, read plays, perform theater and generally have multiple ways to understand such a writer as Thornton Wilder.
As humans we seem to not grasp how terrible war is, else why do we commit it generation after generation? It seems we do not grasp evil caused by demonizing another person due to color of skin, religious belief, how one dresses, or who one loves. We commit violence against each other in word, thought and action. As humans we seem to be the only species unable to understand our own nature naturally.
We must teach children civility lest we become like children in “Lord of the Flies.” We need reminding generation after generation to be kind, that only kindness matters when all said and done. As Wilder writes, “Even memory is not necessary for love … the bridge is love.” (We must stand for nonviolence and reach out to others with justice in all forms especially economically right now.)
Even if you haven’t read Thornton Wilder’s works or seen his play, “Our Town,” you can grasp a crumb of his brilliant writing with so many venues. You can see HHS perform this play. You can hear it read at Alice’s. You can participate in discussions or simply come and listen to absorb other ideas about this author’s words. It’s good for us to listen to each other, be with each other in more intimate settings like the fireside in the library. We can be together “digesting our town” as we read the formal reading or not. We can give to each other in a neighborly sort of way when we come together. What’s not wonderful about that? And it’s free for the taking!
Free for participating!
Philanthropy comes in many forms and surprises us. There are many ways to give without it being grand sums of money or establishing a charitable fund. Give of yourself, your time, your sense of belonging here. Volunteer. It feels good and has no side effects, no negative medical consequences.
Only good stuff results. It may open doors for you in ways nothing else has until now. Seize the opportunity right here, right now.
Flo Larson is on the board of directors of the Homer Foundation.