Cari Pattison on Why Literature Matters

I’m Cari Pattison, and I’ve been an ordained
Presbyterian minister for the past 10-and-a-half years. I’m currently serving as a pastor of a church
just north of the city in Westchester County. I was an English major at Kalamazoo College
and also an English teacher in Grandview, Missouri. I would be remiss if I didn’t include one
other piece of work, which is Truman Capote’s short story “A Christmas Memory”. I have found myself quoting that little story
more than anything else in my sermons and in my teaching. I read it as an eight grader as part of a
literature anthology at school. I had no idea who Truman Capote was, which
is funny because I’m from Kansas, so “In Cold Blood”. Something about that story in such a compact
amount of pages, he was able to evoke a relationship between a child and [00:04:30] a woman who
had different abilities. An older cousin who’s unnamed, and that sweetness
that they have about both being outsiders and yet having this tender connection with
each other. The section I quoted most often is where their
out flying kites, and his cousin, his friend, has made this beautiful homemade kite, and
she sees it up in the sky, and she says, “Buddy, I could die with just today in my eyes.” That line always make me choke up because
in the end, as Buddy grows older they lose touch, but he finds out that she did pass
away, and the final image in that story is of two kites, two lost kites, finding their
way up to Heaven. I think the profound connection for me with
that and faith is that for me being a Christian and being a pastor is ultimately about helping
people find those unlikely connections and looking for both human love and divine love
in unlikely sources. That little story has always captured that
for me.

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