Song and Memory

Cow_AutumnAutumn is working its way down the hillsides. In our valley we are yet to arrive at peak; here near the lake the foliage is deceptively green with patches of vibrant color. The weather remains much too warm and dry, although we had a hard freeze away from the lake a couple of nights ago. I imagine the weather service will now stop issuing frost and freeze advisories. All the while, our garden soldiers on.

Last night we attended a concert of music of the Sephardic Jewish diaspora, as imagined and performed by the Guy Mendilow Ensemble. The program wandered across countries and centuries, from Fifteenth Century Spain and Portugal, to the Holocaust in Sarajevo.

Although the music and stories come to us via Ladino cultures, in the concert hall one could feel the presence of all those who have suffered displacement and genocide, all who have lost everything. Also present were the threats inherent in the current election cycle in the U.S.. Jennie identifies as Jewish and Welsh, and I as Native American. No wonder this morning we are still speaking of the concert.

As you might imagine, there were a good many disturbing questions woven within the almost incomprehensibly beautiful music and tales. During a post performance conversation with the ensemble, we learned that Columbus was Ladino. How did it happen, we wonder, that he would impose his people’s experience of exile and loss on those living in the lands he chanced upon?

This morning, over Sunday tea and croissants, we are aware that displacement and genocide are always near, as are stories and experiences of survivance. I wonder whether greed and genocide are forces feeding off human suffering, entities that have co-evolved with us. If so, are our music and tales are an inoculation against them?

As we witness the renewed influence of hatred, greed, and fear in the U.S. and Europe, we must remember where this may lead, as to forget is to risk reenacting the unimaginable. May we remember and be kind.

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5 thoughts on “Song and Memory

    • Lorrie, it seems that even here in Vermont the tone of the election has turned nasty. Still, there are many who refuse to engage, and usually those who turn nasty lose. Sadly, both sides for governor have turned sour….. In spite of this, autumn is lovely.

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