Sunday, March 26, 2017

Here on this Earth to make a report on it


I am savoring these lines from a poem titled “Consciousness” by the Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz:

I think that I am here, on this earth,
To present a report on it, but to whom I don’t know.
As if I were sent so that whatever takes place
Has meaning because it changes into memory.

These words go deep into the soul. Say them aloud, and see what stirs in you. Perhaps you will sense, however obscurely, a soul assignment older than your entry into your present life experience. This is the beginning of soul remembering: reclaiming the knowledge that belonged to you, in spirit, before you came into your present body.
     With poetic clarity, Milosz also evokes our responsibility, as conscious humans, to be the authors of meaning in our own lives. This requires us to construct stories, and then share them.
      Some must take on this task for whole peoples. In my travels in the Baltic, I became vividly aware of the enormity and vital importance of this task among populations that suffered three savage occupations – by the Soviets, the Nazis and then the Soviets again – during World War II and remained under the iron boot of a totalitarian system that deformed memory and sought to crush the spirit for another 50 years. The Baltic republics are again under the shadow of a huge and threatening neighbor.
      From my travels in Latvia, I brought home a searingly brave and beautiful book, With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows. The author is Sandra Kalniete, a Latvian art historian who became her country’s foreign minister after independence. She reports on her efforts to construct the true story of her family’s tragic experiences as deportees to the slave labor camps of the Soviet Gulag, where she was born. As the reader trudges, starved, with her mother and grandmother through the Siberian snows, a tiny flame flickers.

…whatever takes place
Has meaning because it changes into memory.

Image: Milosz's refugee certificate from the French Government in the Beinecke Library at Yale.




2 comments:

rushessay said...

Such deep poetry and can really change a persons perspective. We are the writers of our life and are free to become who we want!

nanette davis said...

"I think that I am here, on this earth,
To present a report on it, but to whom I don’t know." This made me think of something that happened years ago to me that gives the words a different spin. I was in my 20's and was listening to a woman talk about something that happened and her feelings and thoughts about it. I found myself shocked and surprised with what she said. What was even more shocking was the voice I heard in my head which said: " WOW! wait until I tell THEM what this woman just said! I don't remember what she was talking about or even her particular shocking and surprising response to it. What I found most shocking was that I felt like I had someone inside of me who was a spy for a "Higher Power". I have had this feeling more than once. It gives renewed weight to the saying of "putting the fear of God in someone". Is God or someone keeping tabs on the world and maybe looking for another Job?