Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dorie Catlett

"'Oh, my boy, how far away will you be sometime, remembering this?'"

     Dorie Wheeler Catlett to her grandson Andy, who is remembering it many years later in San Francisco (where "Nobody in thousands of miles . . . knows him" (51)), confused and on the verge of a great abandonment. It is the latest in a series of "rememberings" that reminds him that "He is held, though he does not hold. He is caught up again in the old pattern of entrances: of minds into minds, minds into place, places into minds. The pattern limits and complicates him, singling him out in his own flesh. Out of the multitude of possible lives that have surrounded him and beckoned to him like a crowd around a star [(cf. p. 45)], he returns now to himself, a mere meteorite, scorched, small, and fallen. He has met again his one life and one death, and he takes them back. It is as though, leaving, he has met himself already returning, pushing in front of him a barn seventy-five feet by forty, and a hundred acres of land, six generations of his own history, partly failed, and a few dead and living whose love has claimed him forever. He will be partial, and he will die; he will live out the truth of that. Though he does not hold, he is held. He is grieving, and he is full of joy. What is that Egypt but his Promised Land?" Wendell Berry, Remembering (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1988), 57-58.

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