Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!
An intimate group of 16 gathered today to watch a 2-minute scene from the movie, “Tree of Life,” from director Terrence Malick. We oriented ourselves in the scene by considering place; where are we? What appeared to be a 1950s American dream-like “all is good” mythology brought with it questions: who is the messenger? Can nature be antithetical, antagonistic and punishing? We agreed that the imagery and language in the scene were open to multiple levels of understanding and affiliation, based on each viewer’s life experience and definition of nature and grace. “Nature” might refer to flora and fauna, but what about human nature? Is grace possible in the moment? There seemed to be forces at play (good, bad and neutral) that evoked a range of feelings: nostalgia, awe, and an unsettling nervousness (“Something bad is about to happen”). We noticed how the soft and soothing “church music” heard throughout contrasted sharply with the forceful waterfall near the scene’s conclusion, one of several imagery-rich juxtapositions that seemed to be manipulated cinematically for dramatic effect.
We heard from six writers in response to the prompt, ““Take us to a place of nature and grace.”
Our first writer situated us in Brazil, and led with the line “There is zero grace in Brazil”, opening us to the emotionally charged current social injustice that allows for the release of a rapist, who has preyed upon women. This narrative was followed by one that situated us in yet another place entirely — a mountain in Syria, where we contemplated the millennia of struggle that the sweeping fields below had experienced. Our next writer invited us to a view of loons and ducks from the eye level of a kayaker in the cottage country of Canada, a place where nature and grace are married forever. Another marriage of experiences was explored as our next narrative took us into the physiologic and psychic connection of two people touching — a sensual occurrence we are missing in this time of COVID. Following this a writer explored our interactions with one another but through the eyes and smiles of two children finding common ground and the melting of hate and the grace that comes from acceptance. Our final reflection returned us to the question of nature versus grace as we considered the wolf hunting the elk. Is this tragedy? Triumph? Is this grace?
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Please join us for our next session Monday, November 9th at 6pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.