Saturday, August 23, 2008

Heavens above!

Night fell. Stars rose and the sky was filled with glittering fireworks. Sparkling drops cascaded to the water below like leaves on a willow tree drifting in a gentle summer breeze. Shimmering. Glistening. The air was filled with wonder.

We were at GlobalFest last night. An international festival featuring displays, food and entertainment from around the world. The fireworks competition is the highlight of the events every evening for five days. Amazing!

I was given V.I.P. tickets as a gift for speaking on two panels during GlobalFest's Human Rights Forum the week before. At one of the panels, we were asked to tell stories about our clients -- particularly pertaining to issues immigrants face. It was an interesting event -- what struck me most was that the 200 seat theatre was only about half full. The people to whom we were speaking were all 'believers'. They already realize the necessity to broaden our concept of community, to expand our understanding of each other and to become a more tolerant society. Where was everyone?

One of the speakers was an aboriginal man from Saskatchewan. He told of becoming homeless -- not because he's an addict, or because of violence. He became homeless because of bed bugs. Lots of them. The rooming house he lived in was infested with them. When he asked the landlords to do something about it, they ignored him and so he went to the authorities. He was eventually evicted when the rooming house shut down. Unable to find a comparable rent, he hit the streets.

He was an amazing story-teller. Passionate. His voice was strong yet melodious. He spoke in short sentences, punctuating each comment with a short silence. I couldn't help but hang onto each word he spoke.

The art of speaking. Of story-telling. Of weaving words into pictures. He was gifted.

At Globalfest last night, I witnessed story-telling in the night sky. Set to contemporary music -- Pink Floyd's, The Wall -- the display exploded into the sky and cascaded to the still waters of the lake below in pinks and whites and yellows and blues and greens. We sat on a blanket on a grassy verge, our heads tilted up, our eyes wide open, our mouths whispering Ooohs! and Aaaahs! into the night. Brilliant stories danced in the sky and I felt transported by the magic of the moment into silent wonder. On the surface of the lake's water, in the light cast by the fireworks above, a lone duck swam. He'd dip his head, duck beneath the surface and then come up for air. Perhaps he too was struck by the wonder of it all! In the thundering clap of the fireworks, my mind slipped into stillness, silence descended, the world drifted far away and I became lost in the moment. Surreal. Sublime. Stupendous.

It was a night to remember. A night to dream upon a star. To cast a wish to the heavens above and be lifted up by the artistry dancing in the sky. Aurora Borealis move over. The heavens are on fire.

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