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Ignite a Fire

Written by: Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas | Posted on: | Category:
Starry Night

"Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it."
~ Wilferd A. Peterson

What a blessing to have had so many people, living, and deceased that have ignited my spirit. My parents, sweetheart, children, grandchildren, family, and friends are all part of this long, long list. These are the obvious dreamers and believers, but what of those gentle souls who may not be as obvious?

As a young girl, I was deeply touched by the art of Vincent Van Gough in a way that I still find difficult to describe. His images awakened in me an understanding that to be different was OK ... to pursue your passion was what life was about. When I first saw Starry Night, I believed deep in my youthful heart that he had painted it just for me ... a touchstone in time, given so that I could remember my passion.

Another artist whose work touched my soul the first time I laid eyes on it is Mary Engelbreit. Her illustrations are found in many books as well as posters, household items and even on Facebook. What touches me when reflecting on her art are how real the people look in her sketches/paintings. The emotions of the characters are easily read on their faces. However, it is her messages that I like the best ... always bringing love, peace, and hope to the world.

But art isn't the only way my passion was ignited. Poetry, from as long as I can remember, was part of who I am. My mother read and recited by heart the words of Rumi, Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Poetry informed my sense of social justice through the writings of Langston Hughes and Emma Lazarus. However, the words of the late Dr. Maya Angelou resonated in my heart and soul in a way few have. Something within her poems was recognized and affirmed. Here was a woman who had struggled; a woman who was told she was not enough; a woman who found her voice, her passion and courageously stepped into the Light. Her wisdom sits with me still ... leading me forward as a woman and peacemaker. When I read her words, "I am a Woman/Phenomenally./Phenomenal Woman,/that's me." from her poem, Phenomenal Woman, I saw myself. This was her gift ... to write words that spoke to all people.

Like poetry, music has also been part of my daily life. My mother always had music playing or she was singing everything from hymns to torch singer classics. From this eclectic musical background, I found that the music of George Gershwin and Glenn Miller informed my less than talented musical side. Something about the tone, melody and lingering notes of their songs and compositions gave me the ability to see the music in life. They heard, not simply saw, the trees sing, the stars harmonize and the seas beat rhythms. When I sit quietly in nature, or even on a busy city street, I hear their music ringing in my ears.

As we continue to struggle through this pandemic, we are challenged to keep our passions ignited. However, I believe that if we continue to rise above the fog of fear and the darkness of despair, we can find ways to let those who have inspired us, " ignite a fire within ... to leave this world better than when you found it."

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