When we started PORTICO in May of 2007, we dedicated ourselves and our pages to exploring the people and stories of Mississippi: to words spoken and written and set to music, to images rich, indelible and fleeting; and to people unmatchable, inarguably unique and familiar, all of unparalleled influence and impact. Despite the profound depths of our human experience, we are surrounded by soaring faith and hope and promise: we are a place ineffable, buoyed and grounded by the expression of individual visions and acknowledgement of our collective essences.
Mississippi has forever been vulnerable through its diversity and the challenges of entitlement, perceived and actual. Whether evidence-based or science-based, we have endured the vicissitudes of nature, both physical and human. Whether ceaselessly embryonic or dramatically transformational, our lives have been shaped by experience and presence, and so many among us, industrious or genius, have shaped our country and our planet. It is our vulnerability that has fortified us and motivated us and enlightened us.
Words and lives. Images and action. Places and belief. We are surrounded by both example and devotion, by the opportunity of vocation and the comfort of resolution. We have been constrained, yet managed to be unbound. We have been reined, but have managed to arise. We have been defined, but managed to surprise. People of impulse and propriety, we will never accept the censorship of words or belief or imagination for it is those things that have set us apart and upon the path through so much and toward so much more.
In other words, don’t tell a Mississippian what to say or what to think and don’t suggest a list of words not to be used. We will defy you and astound you and prove, not just the folly of censorship, but the expanse and singularity of our character and persona. After all, we come from a history of exceptional beings who knew a thing or two about words in combination.
In proof and application, we break from an unspoken, personal mandate here in this issue. With our focus on story, on the words and images, on the unique surrounding us, we choose not to document weddings or the regular and social gatherings of our lives. In this issue we celebrate a wedding and a social gathering, a carousel of an event unique and extraordinary, overflowing with the exuberance and imagination and marvel that we have always sought on our pages and that each of us has always held in the youngest places of our hearts and memory. We should all reach out for such joy and love and revel at every turn. It is the quintessence of life.
In postscript, mindful of the circle of life, as we exult in the promise of beginnings, let us also regard the hope of its endings. I recently attended a funeral at Beth Israel. It was my first occasion to be there. Upon the wall is the phrase, Know Before Whom You Stand. While there are theological and canonical meanings and it placed me there among those, gathered and departed, celebrating a life fully realized, I was struck by its universal application across every second and situation of our culture and life. As we begin this new year, let us all observe and be mindful.
Happy New Year!