Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Lost in the confusion of past days ... found while foraging through old memories ...

a large cache of papers (correspondence and notes) from the experience of the Unitarian-Universalist Black Caucus at a critical time in UU history. They're written to friends with whom I shared the experience and give an accurate picture of a truly historic era that has not been heavily documented. On an impulse, I emailed an African American minister friend now living in the Boston area telling him that -- while going through old files I'd come upon papers that he might find of interest. He's far younger than I; the age of my eldest son, I think, and one with an abiding interest in recent black history.

I read through only a few of the papers -- fully intending to run them through the paper shredder but finding it difficult to do so. They held little of importance to me at this point in my life -- especially when there were so many other ways to go in recalling the events of my history -- but should they be trashed? Probably not.

I didn't see them as anything more than my personal account of events, but, suppose other personal accounts could be turned up from basements or attics in other parts of the country? It was after all, a national movement involving 3 meetings in 3 states over 3 years and filled with content that should be remembered. Supposing he could combine my documents with those of others yet to be discovered? Could that not be interesting?

He responded almost immediately and within two weeks sent a message that he would be here in the Bay Area for several days soon and would love to have a chance to talk about my offer. It was a given that he was enthusiastic about having possession of my papers.

He came last Wednesday; we spent the day together, and I learned from him that there is, indeed, work being done at the moment in gathering together just such works into an archive being established at the University of Chicago. We agreed that I will pull my papers together into protective sheets in a binder and send them to him for inclusion. My request was that he first scan them for anything that might be hurtful to anyone -- or that might be politically inappropriate in light of subsequent developments in the years following -- but otherwise they're his to use as he sees fit. It's a considerable batch of sometimes hyperbolic accounts of events, but the few that I took the time to scan were exciting to read. I believe that others will find them equally so.

So you see, I may be becoming a writer by default.

Over the next few days I'll go back to foraging through these yellowing crumbling documents for more pieces to share here. But that may mean more discoveries that need to be directed into other avenues for sharing to more targeted readers in the black community.

It could be that I've lived many books, any one of which could find its way into print. Maybe the hardest job will be choosing which book to write. It may be that I will become stuck -- unable to decide and lose the momentum to write at all. It could be that the remembering will serve its own purpose and not need to be acted on. But deep down I think that would be regrettable.

Will I stop long enough in the living of it to tell about it?

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