Finding Beauty in a Broken World
Terry Tempest Williams
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"Shards of glass can cut and wound or magnify a vision," Terry Tempest Williams tells us. "Mosaic celebrates brokenness and the beauty of being brought together." Ranging from Ravenna, Italy, where she learns the ancient art of mosaic, to the American Southwest, where she observes prairie dogs on the brink of extinction, to a small village in Rwanda where she joins genocide survivors to build a memorial from the rubble of war, Williams searches for meaning and community in an era of physical and spiritual fragmentation.
In her compassionate meditation on how nature and humans both collide and connect, Williams affirms a reverence for all life, and constructs a narrative of hopeful acts, taking that which is broken and creating something whole.
written in 1953, after Stalin’s death, I hear it as a raised fist against oppression. The calling of strings is an outpouring of emotion. A lone clarinet. An oboe weeps in sorrow, echoed by a bassoon and then the voice of the flute. A melody emerges in the midst of mass tragedy. And the military cadence continues. The flute reminds me of the prairie dogs. Or perhaps it is the prairie dog’s voice that holds the place of the flutes. There is an ecological orchestration that is ongoing, a
Burrow 8Z. Over the radio, John tells me that Madame Head Wide Apart’s weight is 902 grams; her last baby marked weighed 155 grams; and Miss #70’s one baby the we have captured so far weighed a whopping 233 grams, huge for a pup. I remember asking a nurse who assisted a brain surgeon regularly how she would describe the color of the brain. She looked at me, paused, and then said, “You know how clouds at sunset turn pink, then gray—that’s the color of a healthy, human brain.” Brain
roll in it. A gust of wind blows, and the dried shit is carried right into our towers to settle. I wonder what cumulative effect this is having on the prairie dog colony? The noise level heightens. The back-up beeps of backhoes, the diesel engines of trucks, jets, helicopters—this is anything but serene. I am now watching Alyssa, a caring and capable woman from New Hampshire, check her traps in her Carhartt pants, black pile jacket, and hiking boots. She told me last night that she and
of teaching the teachers and always engaging the children or, more accurately, being engaged by them. I cannot stop thinking about Sharamanzi, his plea for work. The call for prayer wafts through Gisenyi from the mosque. I have come to love their haunting regularity at five in the morning and seven at night. I think of Michel in his pink bobo, his wisdom, his commitment and generosity. How he teaches me something every day, be it language, a new word, or something inside his Muslim culture.
in regard to something so instinctual. Clementine remains silent and thoughtful. Her eyes never stray from mine. “That is really interesting.” She expresses her concerns about many Rwandan women choosing to have as many children as they can to make up for those lost in the genocide. “And then they can’t feed them and they suffer.” Clementine does not feel she can have any more children. She says that, now, if she got pregnant, she would not continue with the pregnancy because she would