In my class on religion and popular culture, we explore the notion of sacred space. Often, I’ll show my students a few very short clips from Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea: this one on Native American notions of sacredness, with Gerard Baker; this one on the human connection to nature, with Dayton Duncan; this one on the intimacy and immensity of time, with William Cronon; and this one on the parks as places of love, with Terry Tempest Williams.
My students are drawn powerfully to all four speakers — especially to Williams and her moving images of the Tetons as “remembered landscapes.” I thought of her words this week as I traveled through my own home terrain, re-familiarizing myself with the remembered landscapes of my birthplace in western New York and my grandparents’ home in western Pennsylvania. I have missed these places, this knowing and being known.
The trip also made new memories: gorgeous views of the Pittsburgh skyline and a wonderful meal of crispy fish tacos and field greens at Kaya, in the city’s Strip District. These are now part of my remembered landscapes, and my children’s.