The following reflection is from Mindy Pickens, Summer Institute attendee from Oregon.
This morning opened with participants reading aloud, in parts, the storm scene from Book One of the Aeneid, and I was palpably blessed. We fed the discussion with this question: “As you read through The Aeneid, is there an emotion that undergirds your experience? How would you describe your feeling as you read it?”
The room is silent for a moment as we look into the memory of reading it. As one attendee describes the feeling of sadness for Aeneas and another the sense of roller coaster highs and depths, I am remembering the bittersweet moments I carved out between laundry and spelling lessons, between bedtime and sleep, bittersweet moments where I began to learn to read Virgil’s epic poem. We were asked whether our feeling is shallow or deep and I know in an instant that my feeling is deep, both for Aeneas for myself as I make room in my life for this difficult thing.
For Aeneas I feel the weighty pain of duty from which he can not be free. When I imagine his face at key points in his journey home, I feel agonized for him and his world, governed by fickle, fallible powers on high in Olympus.
For myself, both as I read in scattered quiet moments and as I look into the faces of these fellow pilgrims united a common need, what I feel is hope. I feel hope that it’s not too late for me or for my girls, for any of us. There has long been a quiet flame in my soul, a lamp under a bowl, and looking into this great work in the light of Christian fellowship has stoked the embers. In the warmth of this hope I am blessed.