Saturday, June 19, 2010


Artifacts -- the repository of memory; the fuel of present warming fires; that which is redolent and suggestive and glowing with ... with ... with....

Some of Mother Teresa's artifacts went on display recently here in Massachusetts.

From the article, it is clear that onlookers were moved in a variety of ways -- truly moved.

A piece of the "true cross;" one of Buddha's bones; an artillery shell dug out of a French farmer's field so many years later ... artifacts excite reactions. Very touching reactions, very human, very moving.

But I also find it interesting that artifacts that are truly moving do not always create in those who are moved a reflection on what it is that moves. What door is it that opens onto some new and touching plateau? Why is it enough simply to be moved -- sometimes to tears -- by a bit of wood or a bit of bone or a bit of steel? How could the onlooker be moved if what moved them were not already embedded in their lives ... goodness, evil, sorrow, laughter, joy. Where does that come from?

Too often the wondrous effect of artifacts stops short. It just strikes me as a pity.

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