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Last night, I went leafing through an old journal, one that I kept while I travelled across Canada with ten other young people.  While we were in New Brunswick (in the town that would eventually become my home for four years), we made up a treasure hunting game that involved a van, a blindfold and a lot of sugar-induced hyperactivity.  The blindfolded person would make decisions about which direction to turn at intersections, taking us in circles and down sidestreets until they shouted STOP! – at which point the driver would park, we would all jump out and begin running desperately around trying to find treasure – any treasure.  An incredible leaf.  A swingset.  An ice cream shop.  It didn’t matter what the treasure was, so long as it was considered treasure by the beholder.  It was all inspired by the Calvin and Hobbes books and Calvin’s claim that there is treasure everywhere.  And really, there is, if you go looking for it.

As I drove home through downtown Hamilton today, this idea of treasure everywhere wandered through my mind.  I looked at the people walking along the sidewalks, waiting for buses, coming out of stores.   I looked at the drivers who were passing me.  I looked at the shops and thought about who their owners might be, who might work in them.  I thought about the people I’ve met downtown.  Agnus, who came to Canada from Vienna fifty years ago; Dave, who runs an art/book shop; Jenny, the artist I wrote about a few months ago.  And so many others.  Downtown Hamilton is a busy place.  There are people everywhere.  Treasured people.

But these people are so fragile.  Some of them have been very obviously broken by poverty or addictions, abuse or mental health issues or unemployment.  Some have very obviously fallen through gaps in the system – be it the mental health system, or the education system, or the justice system.  And there are others who you would never know are broken.  Who walk around in nice clothes, with jobs and kids and smiles on their face, while society hands them every kind of mask they could possible need to hide what exists on the inside.  Because people are so fragile.  So easily broken.

And yet, these same people are so resilient.  Some of the most caring people I have met have stories of abuse and cruelty in their past.  People who have been treated like garbage by family or society who choose still to love and trust and reach across the space between us.  To try again and again and again to get on their feet, despite others knocking them back down.  To believe for something better.  Or even to just keep going in the absence of that belief.

I am astounded by this paradox.  The fragility and resiliency of humankind.  I see it everywhere.  On their faces.  In my own reflection.  I see it in you.

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Let me tell you how excited I am to be writing.  Often over the last couple of weeks, I have sat down to write and only found blank spaces.  Perhaps this is necessary at times but I am so thankful for the flow of words again.

Someone recently asked me where we pull more rope from when we reach the end of our own.  It struck me as an important question.  As part of a community, I must recognize and give rope when another needs it and ask for and accept rope when I need it.  And I am learning that rope can come in small ways, from unexpected places.

Some nights I come upstairs to my room exhausted and thankful for little more than the end of the day.  There are unexpected difficulties or grumpy moods (my own or another’s).  There are conflicts or broken dishwashers or just long days.  I want to rush through the end of these days towards the moment that I can close my door and be alone.  On these nights, the value of relationship can easily get replaced with a to-do list and the gift of the moment is overlooked.

But then there are the nights we dance.

Some nights, like tonight, Alice and I dance in the bathroom.  There is probably very little in the world that can give me as much joy in such a small way.  We recently discovered the added amusement of watching each other in the mirror while we dance.  Alice will cycle between fits of laughter and ridiculous dance moves until she lets out a long sigh, signaling to me that its time to head to her bedroom.  She relaxes into the pillow with a giggle and a “t’kyou” and we both end these nights with contentment in our hearts.

My hope is that on the nights when my rope feels shorter than usual, these memories will be a source of strength.  Not every night can be like this, which is what makes them so special, but hopefully their impact is able to carry both Alice and I through the longer days.

Peace.  And I hope you have nights when you can dance.

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