Friday, December 26, 2008

The spark of possiblity

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. Golda Meir

Two and a half years ago I started an art program at the homeless shelter where I work. This Christmas, one of the artists gave me a present. A beautiful gift wrapped box containing four ceramic serviette rings painted by a Yukon artist. "Here," he said, casually putting the box in my hands. "You do so much for us. It's for you."

I glanced down at the red ribboned box in my hands. I was surprised. Taken aback. Moved. I felt my heart stir. A gentle note of gratitude plucked. A ripple of harmony awoken. A gift? I opened the box and gazed at the beautiful serviette rings inside. Primary colours. Vibrant, Eskimoo scenes. "She's a fantastic artist," he told me. "I thought you'd like her work."

I glanced up at Joe (not his real name), the artist who so graciously shared what little he had with me. I saw a tiny spark of possibility burning brightly. A creative soul awoken.

I am blessed. When I first started working at the shelter, I saw limitless possibilities without knowing much about the impossibilities. I stepped in with my 'beginner's mind' and didn't think of all the reasons why it wouldn't work, or even what it would become in the future. I simply saw possibilities for inner sparks to fly.

In two and a half years, those inner sparks are burning with possibility. A world of achievement has been ignited as the artists continue to grow and change and expand.

As the end of the year 2008 quickly approaches, I think about all the inner sparks I've set off, ignored, challenged, tampered down, and ignited in my life. The possibilities at the beginning of the year were endless. Today, they present themselves with a more finite conclusion. A more refined appearance. Some of the sparks I've ignited continue to flame, moving into the rarefied air of achievement, as 2009 approaches. Some are burning out.

What happens to my inner sparks is up to me. I can fan the spark of possibility or let the embers die as I face the impossibility of believing in a dream, a thought, an idea and give into not taking action, not moving forward, not holding onto my dreams.

For Joe, two and a half years ago when he first came to the art program, he barely spoke to me. Sat in a corner by himself, worked quietly on his art, seldom looking up from the canvas in front of him. Last week, he talked to me about the challenges of this time of year, the sadness, the loneliness, the disappointment of being so far from home in a place he never before imagined. He talked about the journal he's writing in -- "I'm not a word kind of guy," he said. "But I'm working on this play with the guy from the University and he insists I keep a journal." He paused. "I kinda like it."

For Joe, the spark of possibility burns bright. He is moving ever closer to a place where the changes within him are transforming into a sense of achievement in the outer world. He is holding onto the possibility of change, and finding himself connected to the idea of letting it happen. In his own time. In his own way. In whatever way fits him.

Ultimately, the choice of what change happens in his life will be his. My job and the job of everyone who works at the shelter, is to keep the doors to possibility open. To hold the light up high so that those coming in from the dark can find their way back home again. So that they can welcome home the realization that they have the power to step free of the darkness that grips them. So that they can see the spark of possibility lighting their way back home.

The question is: What are you doing with your inner sparks? Stomping them out or igniting them, fanning the flame with the fresh air of possibility?

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