Image of "a spark" from Patti Digh's exercise (see below).
On page 54 of Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh, she has some lovely exercises: "Identify a person who had a great positive impact on you from some time when you were between seven and seventeen years old. Write about that person - what memories does their name evoke, and why? Notice how many of these memories are small gestures, tiny events."
Then create an image that represents the spark they provided. What was that spark?
Find ways to hand on that spark, however small.
The first thing that popped into my mind was a trip to a Buddhist monastery in a resort area in the mountains of Taiwan (Sun Moon Lake). There was a monk in this monastery who looked at me (one of those kind, understanding looks that people who have met the Dalai Lama describe of that experience) and suddenly said wait, I have something for you, and rushed away. Then he rushed back again with the most interesting pamphlets on Buddhism. That evening I read them all from cover to cover, and found them be the most rational, wonderful, amazing things I had read up until that point in my life.
But then other things came along like the confiscation of the reading material and life in general, and so I forgot about the experience. Much later, as a young adult, I met Professor Sok Hon Ham , a Korean pacifist who had just been released from prison, whose gaze created that same bell-like resonance, a feeling (that was almost like a sound) of being completely understood and accepted. I realized then what an important, but seemingly small event my interaction the the monk had been to me. How strange and yet wonderful.
So Patti suggests that we create that spark for others, in my case it would be to say or do or just be the right thing to create a feeling of being completely understood and accepted, like the "namaste" greeting where the divine spark in one person recognizes the divine spark in another. And if there's a way to create that spark for ourselves as well, I think that would be most excellent.
What a wonderful exercise. Thank you Patti Digh.