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The Roots That Bind Us: The Paradoxical Nature of the Past


Nena Harris


Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2023.

We invest a great amount of time and energy planting seeds into our children’s lives with the prayerful hope their future selves will look back on a past that is rooted in beauty, truth, and virtue. What shall we do, then, when unwanted roots intertwine and threaten the goodness we have worked so hard to cultivate? Remembering empowers us to celebrate the connections between our past and present selves and expose roots that need the grace of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. We guide our children in looking back to the classical traditions of the past to equip them to remember their place in humanity. And we certainly hope that they will remember the seeds of virtue we have sown. However, we must also delicately balance training them to forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead. How do we teach them to remember and to forget? In this session, we will explore the nature of roots as a metaphor for this eternal struggle and contemplate the power of stories to guide us in considering the roots that bind us to both the beauty and the brokenness of our pasts.