by Gary Dyck
We must find a better way to live this year. Working at the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) has invoked a new desire in me to do what I can for the well-being of my generation. Writers, museums, philosophers, scientists, and children study and build on what each generation does and doesn’t do. Another motivation for us to learn how to live well as a community is something my three years at MHV has also made clear to me… the history of a people living in extraordinary times is known and paid attention to in perpetuity. I think our children and the next generations will be talking about us quite a lot.
Here is a poem for 2022 by Jane Hirshfield entitled Let Them Not Say:
Let them not say: we did not see it.
Let them not say: we did not hear it.
Let them not say: they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.
Let them not say: it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke, we witnessed with voices and hands.
Let them not say: they did nothing.
We did not-enough.
Let them say, as they must say something:
A kerosene beauty.
Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.
It is good to keep imagining the future; our plans, our intentions, while being informed by the past; what has gone before us, their plans, their intentions. The poem above is one that we want to disprove, to make sure it is not true of our time here. That future generations may be able to keep warm by the light we left them.
My first time away from my parents, my mother had ‘the talk’ with me. No, not that one. The one that all good mothers have with their growing children: “when you are at your friend’s house this weekend, be sure to leave it better than you found it.” We are only on this planet for a short time, might as well leave it as good as we can for the next inhabitants.
We need to understand and appreciate each other and our life in this world. We can see again and again from Mennonite history that division is not the path to viable community.
MHV helps us understand that each generation is transient and that we thrive when we practice gracious interdependence. Thank you for your on-going support of MHV and our endeavour to keep learning how to leave the world better than we found it.
MHV gift shop and galleries open again January 11th, 2022. Keep checking our website upcoming events, including our popular author nights. Check out our award-winning ‘Mennonites at War’ exhibit also available online!