Discover more from Songs of Forgiveness
January 2/New Moon of 2022
I begin this newsletter with Hannah Arendt and a Land Acknowledgment because it seems to be the answer to my writer’s block and a place with which to start the year. Arendt was a political philosopher and a Holocaust survivor who wrote about the unpredictability and irreversibility of our actions, of which the only possible redemption is our ability to forgive and be forgiven, hand in hand with our ability to make and keep promises. Therefore every story I share, every word I write, I share with out knowing what exactly will be set in motion, and instead of being paralyzed by those unforeseen consequences, I start with our faculty to forgive. To forgive myself for what I cannot know as I begin and hope that you can forgive as well. And alongside that, to paraphrase Arendt, build an island of security within the oceans of uncertainty by binding myself to promises. I promise to forgive. I promise to write songs of forgiveness. I promise to tell this story as squarely and as honestly as I can.
I write this from Dakota Land, just west of Bdote, the great confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and the spiritual homelands of the Dakota people. They were forcibly removed from this state after the Dakota-US War of 1862. I have benefited from ancestral wealth as my settler ancestors remained. Those of my ancestors that were immigrants to Minnesota, whether knowingly or unknowingly I cannot know, participated in the machinations of manifest destiny that punished the Dakota people. I am grateful that many Dakota have returned to these places and are teaching and thriving and making art here. We all remain cogs in a wheel that continues to turn. It is my intention not to shy away from how it spins and still honor my mom and where she comes from and where I come from.
Because seeing without tension leads to freedom.
Carol Nadine Lee, nee Loe, now Baudler — my mom — was 20 when I was born. We lived — my mom, my dad, and the infant Tina — in a trailer parked on my grandparent’s farm outside of North Mankato for the first six months of my life while my mom finished college at Mankato State University. My Great Grandma Loe’s house was down the gravel road, just about one city block, where my mother resided during her infancy. The family farmed and hunted and traded and made a living in the watershed of the Minnesota River. My mom finished school and went on to collage and had a career.
Now she lives on the top floor of a grand home built in Minneapolis at the turn of the 20th century. A communal home she bought with her husband Will and her daughters and their families — Rachel and me. She moved there after early retirement from the Nature Conservancy in 2012, when after 30 years of service, she was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment. A few years ago her diagnosis was changed to Alzheimers when brain scans confirmed much damage to her prefrontal cortex. She has been losing her language ability for a while now, not being able to read or keep up with Facebook, to track conversations in crowds. Since August, we have watched a much more rapid decline when she started having trouble with her eyesight and depth perception. She can’t understand instructions and requests without a lot of pantomiming. Since November, she has sometimes been asking me what my my name is, and now she sometime doesn’t know who I am at all. More and more her words are just a stutter of sound. She wrote with us when I was teaching writing classes in the house back in 2014. At that time she titled her own memoir, My Heart is Eloquent. I think of that sometimes when she tries to make us laugh despite her suffering. She makes jokes with her hands and her face in the midst of it all, her heart showing how much she still loves even while she cannot say.
This newsletter begins my writing practice for the first Lunation of 2022.
Much love, Tina
P.S. Here is my Land Acknowledgement Meditation from YouTube if you want to acknowledge the history of your place: