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The Fragile Curtain by Karen Burton Mains



 
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"I have lived all my life behind a fragile curtain, formed by the small worlds I know: backyard worlds, the familiar ground of home and work," admits Karen Burton Mains in this very personal journal.

"Illusion is my curtain's name, the illusion that all is well, that I am safe. Neither is it mine alone. . . . "

"We all live behind a curtain of our own illusion. Seeing, we do not see. . . ."

In the spring of 1980, Karen made a traveling survey of the refugee camps of the world. She went to interpret the pain and suffering of these people; instead they showed her the meaning of her own life and of yours and mine.

There in the crowded refugee warehouses, Karen saw the beauty common to us all. The wonder of birth. The sacredness of words "I love you," "I'm sorry," "I want you." And the joy of a welcome home: the glad clamor of hello as a new group of refugees arrive at a camp, resurrected from death and despair to begin again.

The six-week journey became a pilgrimage through two worlds: the one of the camps and the thousands and the backyard world of home and family.

Forced to take a fresh look at her life, Karen allows us intimate glimpses of poignant family scenes, a birthday celebration, Christmas morning for her seriously ill child, the death of her father after a debilitating and lingering illness.

"The eye is the best teacher," Karen concludes at the end of her trip. "I have seen and become convinced. It is the refugee who can help teach us what is truly of value."


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