One way to explore refuges is to create tiny ones. These can be made from shadow boxes, in a bookcase, by furnishing a doll house or even by tucking “fairy houses” made of natural materials into secret spots in the woods. The tiny rooms I made include an antique shop, a fall kitchen (I could not resist adding hoarded toilet paper), a room at an inn, a Chinese restaurant scene, a Japanese tea ceremony in progress, and a weaver’s workshop. For the last one, I experimented with placing various objects in an acrylic display cube and taking photos of the arrangement in my garden.
Imagine you are a member of a troupe of players in the Middle Ages who wander from town to town providing entertainment. It is time to develop some fresh material to present to the hard-working town folk, but the players have wandered far that day and are tired.
Suddenly there are soft tones coming from the woods. Following the music leads to a glade where someone is playing a tongue drum like the one above tapping it with her fingers. She says, “Here all are seen, and all visions are honored. You found me because magical musical fishpond story telling called out to you.”
This muse, for that is her calling, explains that her role is to inspire – she can be serious, silly, or even outlandish at times. You and the others are to weave a story. Playing the fish pond expresses the feelings of your imaginary characters. She warns them the fish can swim away if the players do not respect the ancient tradition of weaving stories with the power to heal.
Children naturally take to this kind of creative play. Adults can forget how powerful a radiant refuge it can be. Imagination is a gift that can bring us into contact with dreams, talents and aspirations. It can enlarge and ease us no matter the circumstances. So often we are lost in the pragmatic details of life, forgetting all of us are fully capable of creating joy and magic.