Monday, 17 December 2012

Inspiration: #Reverb12:16

Who inspired you in 2012? And why? What gifts did they give you?  
                    How will you carry these forward in 2013?

I’d like to share an excerpt from a post I wrote two years ago on a blog that no longer exists:

When I returned from America a couple of weeks ago, the postman delivered a mysterious package to me.  There was no return address or note inside, only a box wrapped in Christmas paper.  I eagerly tore open my New Year’s surprise.  I held a cardboard box in my hand with the following words written on it.  

"Willow Tree is an intimate line of figurative sculptures that speak in quiet ways to heal, comfort, protect and inspire.  This piece is cast from my original carving, and then painted by hand.  I try to keep the interpretation of Willow Tree open.  I hope this makes it more personal, and allows you to decide its meaning.  May the simplicity of these figures communicate peace and serenity to you and those you love.” –Susan Lordi

I was astonished by the image I uncovered.  It was a small sculpture of a brown-skinned woman with her arms outstretched, birds gently resting on her.  Her face is upturned towards the warmth of the sun.  The woman’s back is arched, exposing her heart chakra to the elements.  She obviously feels safe; the wild creatures must know she is no threat to them either.

Several things struck me about this most treasured gift.  Of all the wonders of the natural world, I feel most inspired by birds and trees. The Willow is special to me and was the first tree I planted in my garden when I bought my house.  It would seem that whoever chose this present knew me very well. Yet I was almost certain the gift was from a stranger.

Back in September when I volunteered at the Rude Health Fair, I connected with an older man called Damian.  Sometimes you hear stories of angels disguised as people walking the earth like the rest of us.  For some reason, it crossed my mind that Damian could be one, even though I don't really believe in earthly angels.  We only spoke for 20 minutes or so, but he radiated good energy and left an impression.  He lavished me with praise that day; I’ll never forget his kind words because they really touched me.  Damian asked for one of my business cards before he left my stall.  I wondered if I’d ever hear from again.  I had a feeling I would.

A month later I received a phone call.  Instantly I recognized Damian’s Dublin accent.  We had another meaningful conversation about the importance of spirituality and the challenges of modern life.  I enjoyed reconnecting with him, but tensed when he asked for my address.  He said he’d like to send me a gift someday.

I had a typical American response.  Part of me was afraid that he might turn up at my door and commit a heinous crime.  I’ve had poor judgment about other men.  Maybe I was wrong again!  Instead of an angel, I could be drawing Mr Crazy upon myself!

Fortunately I trusted my gut reaction and chose to remain open.  Before we hung up, Damian explained that his gift would arrive without a word attached to it. Something had reminded him of me, and he promised to send it when the time was right.

I had been curious but never imagined his gift would be so beautiful!  I don’t have his phone number or any way of thanking him, which is the way he must want it.  Perhaps we’ll never meet or speak again.  I am so grateful for such a heartfelt, unconditional gesture!  It gives me hope for humanity.
*     *     *

Sadly my son accidentally broke the statue and she’s now headless, but the sentiment remains.  Since the time when I wrote the passage above, Damian and I have developed a friendship. Nowadays I hear from him almost every week.  Though we only met briefly that one time, we have a genuine connection.  I’ve come to appreciate the work he does as a high school guidance counselor, and I value his advice.  Sometimes he calls and simply listens while I let off steam.  He has raised 5 children and has been married for close to 30 years.  He knows all about the ups and downs of family life!

He usually sends texts on Sundays with messages such as:
Let your heart soar and your soul fly. Be free. Be at peace.  But most of all... Be.
Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  
Sing like birds sing, not worrying who listens, or what they think.  Keep celebrating your uniqueness.

I’ve been inspired by his kind words and continuous generosity.  He has sent me various little surprises throughout the year. Once he randomly sent €20 with specific instructions to treat myself.  The letter arrived on a day when I was really struggling, and the timing couldn’t have been better!  It’s uncanny.  On my birthday I received a mass card with a lovely note attached, even though he doesn’t know when I was born.  He has also given me a couple of books on spirituality. Most recently he sent Awareness by Anthony de Mello.  I also received a copy of Osho’s Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously.  I’m determined to finish reading them in 2013.  Hopefully I’ll be able to apply what I learn to my daily life.

My relationship with Saint Damian (as I’ve come to think of him) is purely unconditional, which is a real blessing.  Who knows if we’ll ever meet face to face again!  It doesn’t really matter.  I’ve also formed bonds with writers online through projects such as reverb.  These friends listen and offer support, they bear witness to my story as it unfolds.  I do the same for them.  In the coming year I’d like to nurture these connections, regardless of the outcome.  

As I approach the New Year, I’m reminded of a quote Damian sent me: “Life is not the pursuit of happiness but the discovery of joy.” I couldn't agree more.

 #Reverb12 is an annual December writing project which aims to reflect on the past year and manifest the next.  Blog, journal, or simply leave a comment. Everyone is welcome to participate! Today’s prompt is from I Saw You Dancing. Follow Kat on twitter @kat_anew


  1. A perfect post! Loved this! We need these reminders of human generosity and compassion and healing, especially right now. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

  2. Thanks, Noel! I agree... There's so much negativity in the world at the moment, but we must not become overwhelmed by it. Instead, let's pull together, remember every act of kindness, and continue to share our stories. Brene Brown's recent post, "our stories matter because we matter: thoughts on the power of our voices", is worth reading on her blog (called Oridnary Courage). x


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