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Reply To: The Hour Yields, with Mythologist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D.


    Dr. Gardner,
    First of all a warm welcome and I also would like to echo my appreciation of your beautifully written and very thoughtful piece. The first part was for me particularly moving as it spoke to an experience we all have in common; (that of losing someone close); and the poignant way you expressed your grief spoke to this in a very powerful way. This experience of life’s emotional connection and fragility touches us all at some point; and the way it changes our world can often go far beyond the ability of words to describe it. As one of life’s major constants this affect of loss is far too often not as fully appreciated or comprehended as to the power of it’s ability to define as well as color our view of life as we move through it’s various stages toward our own exit. But moments such as these can also add depth as well as understanding to a larger context in which we play our part; but then we are not usually aware of our own process as we live out our lives either. How many books and poems have been written about this subject is not the point I got from this piece; but the shared humanity was; for it reminded me of the gateway, portal, or threshold moments where one’s life is forever changed. I would say that most people have had some encounter with this experience; and more than likely this experience was profound; for how often have we heard the expression: “and my world just stopped”! (Yes; a “still-point moment” to be sure!)

    Our lives all contain individual mixtures of: trajectory, chance, and destiny of which we may or may not be aware. And what these elements have to do with how we interpret the meaning in how our lives are constructed (also) includes life’s “mystery”; which can blindside us with death’s entrance and we are left devastated and bewildered by our loss and inability to grapple with the profoundness of it’s enormity. To consider the nature of existence includes the realization of death as it’s final act of definition; whether symbolized by the: “Ouroboros”; or ritualized within the world’s great mythic traditions. And to understand the nature of the cosmos as Joseph suggests is to accept the realization that: “life has no meaning”; we bring the meaning to it; (being alive is the meaning); and this “is-ness” in which we are enclosed as he also suggests includes: “we participate in a wonder”; but this realization is also enveloped within a nightmare landscape of: “life eating life”; in which we all: (as best we can); try to engage and contribute with joyful compassion in it’s suffering as we try to find our way.

    To look at the stars and the universe which frames them is to consider something so overwhelming we are left only with our own humble ability to make sense out of something for which there is no meaning or explanation; yet here we are in a little ship on an ocean without a rudder looking for a North Star to guide us; but that star is “our star” that will point us in the right direction for our lives if we but listen to the human heart; the only thing that has properly guided mankind throughout the ages of his existence.

    I really enjoyed your terrific piece and thought about it most of the day. Although my offering is not what I would call formal what moved me the most was the personal aspect; which reminded me of: Dorthey and her companions in the “Wizard of Oz”; each had their gifts to bestow; but it was Dorthey’s steadfast devotion to her quest that in the end took her home.