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 recent 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. In a searingly brave and beautiful book, With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows, Sandra Kalniete, a Latvian art historian who became her country’s foreign minister after independence, 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 or grandmother through the Siberian snows, a tiny flame flickers. “Whatever takes place/Has meaning because it changes into memory.”
I took the photo at sunrise on a stony beach on the Bay of Riga in front of the retreat house where I taught a workshop on Active Dreaming and soul recovery last weekend. I am chronicling my recent experiences in Latvia and Estonia at http://mossdreams.blogspot.com/