There’s a poster with a wonderful quote by Albert Schweitzer. “In everyone’s life,” it says, “at some point our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being, We should be grateful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
There really are people who are filled with so much warmth and vitality that it flows out to enfold any they meet. How fortunate I was to know one such bright and beautiful lady long ago in Sharon, Massachusetts. To be near Tina was to be filled with her enthusiasm, to laugh with her over her comical misadventures, and to leave her company enthralled, exalted, and full of new thoughts. She had traveled the world, and her home was filled with all she had collected—not expensive antiques or art treasures, but things that meant much more. A clumsy little tripod made of sticks sold to her by a ragged urchin in South America now held aloft a lovely bowl fashioned by an old lady in Mexico. A small brass bell had hung in China and was given to her by a schoolboy on her visit there—long before those borders were opened to the West. So many stories…
And as she told them
I felt as if I had met
All the world as friends.
We have all met someone like Tina. Perhaps there is a truly special editor, a colleague with whom to brainstorm and share, and friends whose presence is exciting and exhilarating or simply as warm and as comforting as sunshine. But there are other ways to rekindle that inner spark. A visit to a school is one such way—I always come away renewed by the kinetic energy of young people and with ears full of new dialogue and such possibilities!
There are museums where paintings offer color, movement, and beauty, but more inspiring for me is the work of people I know. I have a photographer friend who rises before dawn to catch the right light, who patiently waits for the absolutely perfect moment, and then! When I stand in front of Martha’s photographs, I feel the cool the iridescence of a dewdrop or feel the flutter-beat of a wildfowl’s wings. And I understand what Blake meant when he spoke of heaven in a wildflower and eternity in a grain of sand.
And if all else fails, there is always the sure-fire remedy of the natural world. Quenched, banked or dulled into cold ashes, the flame within has no chance against a spectacular sunset that paints the sky in crimson and gold. A walk along the beach has its own magic, for with the sound of waves and sea-birds and the gift of shells scattered on the sand, there comes a peaceful rhythm like another heartbeat, a rhythm that allows thoughts and dreams to mingle into something new. These are so many treasures around us free for the taking. Only this morning as I clambered up Everest (who seems a bit tamer these days), I saw how a pine tree spread its dark fingers wide, and how from each slender needle bright raindrops sparkled. And then—and then I saw that the branch tips of a tree in my own garden were showing red—a sign that in some weeks Spring would come. Certainly, there would be winter yet and cold and frost and maybe even snow, but spring would surely come with all her riches!
New shoots on branches
Long bare and winter barren…
My spirit dances!