Editor’s Letter

“Sometimes words are inadequate.”

Our cover subject, Judaic artist Sara Harwin, told me that as she explained why she chose visual art as a way to transmit the core values of Judaism. While the project she has spent the past six and half years creating is based on words, she uses imagery to help others understand “the vitality that is Judaism.”

I have two stumbling blocks to truly understanding her statement about words. As a journalist, words are my lifeblood. On top of that, I am not a visual person – I have a poor memory for visual images, and I definitely would not be classified as a visual learner if I were in the education system today.

Sara also spoke about the role of light in her “Illuminated Letters” exhibit that opens at the Oregon Jewish Museum Feb. 5. “Light draws us to the possibilities,” she told me.

I found new insight into those two phrases while I was working on this month’s cover story. Perhaps seeing Sara’s exhibit and hearing her explanations of the images in the exhibit’s six panels opened my eyes to fresh understanding.

As I headed out to ride my bicycle recently, her words and images were in my head. A major storm front was rolling in from the coast. But as I started to ride, the weather was balmy, the skies were partly cloudy and a double rainbow hung across the road in front of me. Possibilities!

For nearly two hours, the riding was wonderful. The front held off and it was exhilarating to be outside. Then suddenly I was engulfed in rain and heavy wind. The light seemed to vanish; it was almost as if night were falling at 11 am. The absence of light was draining. Heading home became a battle against the elements. I slogged through the rain and wind and darkness. Time stood still and home got no closer.

But then the clouds broke and splotches of sun returned.

I was still riding through rain, so I knew there was another rainbow somewhere above me. My spirits soared and suddenly it was easier to pedal. Nothing had really changed but the presence of light.

And as I pedaled along through the rain and wind and wonderful light, I saw another cyclist heading toward me. Battling the same elements and experiencing the same joy at being outdoors with sunlight finding a way through.

We waved and smiled at each other. Sometimes words are inadequate!


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