“The passage into mystery” (Lewis Hyde)

reading keepsakes

On Saturday, September 24th, I’ll be reading at the Sechelt Arts Centre at 7 p.m. at the invitation of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council, the first in-person reading there for over 2.5 years. I’m thinking of the event as a launch for Blue Portugal & Other Essays and an even more belated launch for The Weight of the Heart, an opportunity to talk about the books and to celebrate them. To celebrate them in relationship to those who read them, who have come out to other events over the years, and who have provided support and friendship. Bev Shaw of Talewind Books will have my books available. I’ll be bringing a cake. I’ll also be bringing a small gift to those who come to reading. John printed little cards with a quote from “Museum of the Multitude Village” — Everything I am remembering is burnished with moonshine…”, a nod to our wonderful experience in Ukraine in 2019, when yes, there was moonshine provided at every stop, little glasses of horilka, flavoured with kalina or horseradish or mountain ginseng or orange peel. It was fiery and delicious and it was part of the welcome we received: bread, salt, and moonshine. Years ago I read Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World and I was very taken with his ideas about reciprocity and the value of creativity.

The passage into mystery always refreshes. If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies. We are lightened when our gifts rise from pools we cannot fathom. Then we know they are not a solitary egotism and they are inexhaustible.

The world I want to live in is one where people are generous, where a gift can be given without an expectation of receiving something back, where what we take from the earth is both a nourishing source for us and also a responsibility. I am endlessly inspired by this beautiful damaged planet and I am held up, supported, by a widening circle of family and friends. If you come to the reading, I can’t greet you at the door with moonshine but I can give you a token, something John and I have made together, and if you look closely, you’ll see the burnished light of a tiny moon.

4 thoughts on ““The passage into mystery” (Lewis Hyde)”

  1. Wish I could be there, Theresa. What a joyful event, to be with listeners and readers in person again after so long, and to celebrate your beautiful work. And John’s.

    1. I am really looking forward to the evening, Beth, though maybe a little nervously. So long since anything like this has happened, or so it seems. In the meantime, I’m sewing, sewing, sewing…

  2. Oh, lovely! I have Hyde’s book, have dipped in and out of it. Whole cultures got it right. We didn’t.

    I bought 3 copies of your book. One to mess up with notes and markings and carrying around with me. One to keep pristine since it is so beautiful as an object. The third I sent as a gift (speaking of gifts) to an interesting woman I’ve met on Facebook who I think will like it.

    Have a wonderful reading, of course you will. I’ll be reading the little poem John printed for me to a group tomorrow. Because of the anthology, that is now my most-read poem by far!

    1. The Gift is a wonderful antidote to the excesses of our culture, I think. It made me rethink my relationship to my work, my hopes for it, and also to what I was willing to offer. These tokens are a gesture.
      Your poem is a good one and it suits what John did with it, I think. Enjoy reading it to your group. Another offering….

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