Sunday, March 14, 2010

The power of symbols

If you truly hold a stone,
you can feel the mountain it came from.
--Mark Nepo

As a girl, I remember visiting my grandparent's house. They had a map of the world on their wall with red pushpins marking every place they had visited. It was a magical treasure to me. No matter how hard I tried, there was always another place to learn about, another story to be heard, another adventure to imagine. Its been many years since they died and now when hope escapes me, I close my eyes and revisit that pushpin-ed map.

And I feel better.

Its not illusion or escapism but rather using my grandparent's map as a living symbol that can call into my moment of sadness a deeper sense of hope and possibility that is always there, just not always accessible.

Symbols, those things that call into being all that lives within us and around us, can help us if we allow them to. If we give them meaning, entrust them with the magic they once gave us, our lives suddenly take on a deeper sheen. A leaf in the shape of a heart found when you first realized you were in love, a feather dropped at your doorstep when you forgot you had wings, a sentence on the computer screen that spoke to your gnawing question---first we have to see them, then we have to hold tight.