"Stephanie encountered me with a hammer in my hand, slumped in front of a stone fortress that to me seemed insurmountable. She handed me a chisel. A beautiful, shiny metallic tool with the perfect geometry to create little patterns of chips out of the stone wall I faced. The handle, she carved to fit perfectly in my hand.  When I asked her to show me how to use it, she said, “You know how. Just stand up, look at the wall, and do what feels right. I’ll be right here. You can do this.”  I began with small, gentle taps, at a level I could handle.  When I got scared, I turned around, and Stephanie was right there. With her encouragement, I began to spread out to the left and the right, up and down. My body began to feel a little more in sync with itself with each chisel mark. When I reached a section that seemed too hard to chisel through, Stephanie was ready with the right exercise to show me how to see the difficulty a little differently. She showed me how to be more attuned to the insight I already possess of how to overcome that difficulty; it just resided at a depth I did not know how to access. She is helping my inner wisdom to surface. 

 

There have been times when I have been frustrated, I have thrown obstinate tantrums, thrown the tools on the ground and wanted to give up. Stephanie never judged. She smiled, she waited patiently, she stayed right there, and when I was ready she came with a hug. She let me cry, and then she handed me back the chisel and I started again. She showed me the beauty of the wall as well.  She showed me the light and shadows created by the little chips falling off. The wall began to look a bit differently to me. The chiseling felt less like work and more like an interesting thing to experience, a potential for creation. Eventually, cracks began to form and large chucks of the wall fell down. My muscles developed stronger, my skill with the tools became refined. I felt taller. At every step, Stephanie has been there, a glowing source of support, compassion and golden wisdom.  

 

Lately, I have begun to see that through the chiseling I can create a sculpture. The substance of the wall has begun to feel less unknown, and the pieces, less solid than they previously seemed. I began to see a beauty in the wall, see the materials as something I could use to build something new out of. And I’ve begun to realize, as I look through the cracks, that there are many other people out there with beautiful stone walls of their own. Out of the pieces we have, together we can build castles, bridges, and balconies to view the beauty of this world from. I know too, that Stephanie has chiseled, shaped, collected and built with her own stone pieces. I have much work left to do, many skills to learn, many moments of mutually developing confidence and humility. But now, I want to build. And my first completed building will have a dedication to Stephanie, who I cannot thank deeply enough for her encouragement to live, a full, rich, potent life. The one I have right now, all around me." ~ J.J., New Jersey

Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
~Veronica Shoffstall~