Friday, February 17, 2006

Full of Jazz and Grace

Last Saturday, I enjoyed an evening of jazz at the Lions’ Den, a cabin in the woods by Boot Lake. The place was jam-packed, and strings of coloured lights were suspended from the ceiling. Razzmajazz was just fantastic, and the group had added John Heaton, a brilliant double-bassist, since I last saw them perform. Only in Inuvik would I find myself sitting in an old cabin with its brown walls, Lions’ Club flags from around the world, and a roomful of faces I recognize, all listening to jazz.

Inuvik has provided me with many such surreal and ethereal moments of grace and wonder. This past Thursday, as well as the previous Thursday before that, the bells were ringing from the tower of the igloo church as I was walking out and about. I felt such a calm stillness washing over me. Perhaps I’m in need of the type of faith and communion that church provides; however I have my own faith. I believe in the power of nature, time, and community. I also believe in healing through contemplation and solitude. As I was walking down the hill, the bells rang out on my left, with an echo resounding across the field of snow on my right.

Valentine’s Day came and went this past week. I’ve never been a great fan of the occasion, but this year, I truly had a memorable time, courtesy again of the strange circumstances in which I’ve kept finding myself in Inuvik. My night was spent with my roommate, my co-worker, her quadriplegic son, the son’s quadriplegic friend, and another friend of the two young men. We sat in the deserted cafeteria of the hospital and ordered in Chinese food. We had planned to have a nice dinner out, but since we had failed to make reservations, our options were limited. Much time was spent discussing whether we could lift the two wheelchair-bound into a vehicle so that we could drive around and find a restaurant with space for all of us, but had finally decided on a “ghetto” Valentine’s meal. We laughed over our fortune cookies: One of the boys had “talent that is not shared is not talent.” Devin vehemently argued that it was bullshit, but could not articulate further. Yes, talent should be shared with the world, but what of the Emily Dickinson’s in the world? Sharing pieces of oneself is a choice, an act of courage; however, lack of sharing does not equal lack of talent. Talent, in the same way as beauty, is in the soul of the beheld, not in the eye of the beholder. A wild foal running free in a meadow has an inexpressible beauty regardless of whether someone is there to appreciate it. An icicle hanging from the branch of a tree has miraculous grace whether or not we take note. Valentine’s Day 2006 will always be remembered as the day when I saw grace and beauty in the eyes of those young men, who had humour and courage enough to fill my heart to the brim.

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