I used to spend a little bit of time making jewelry. I took some classes at a studio in Toronto, soldered some metal I’m proud of, and learned some stuff about myself while I was at it.

I was really into my hobby back then, most likely because I was going through such a strange chapter of struggling to fit in to a law firm on Bay St., and trying to make a bad relationship work, it was something that just made me feel like me, and I loved how it forced me to concentrate on one thing at a time. When you’re filing, you’re filing, when you’re hammering, you’re hammering, one step after another while you build the beautiful thing. A simple, steady process. A lovely, much needed metaphor.

Strangely enough, one of my most cherished memories of my time in that space has nothing to do with the metal, but it was how it facilitated a chance encounter with a special individual who used to frequent the shop that accompanied the studio.  I was passing by one afternoon to pick up one of my works of art, and this woman, homeless perhaps, “mentally challenged” for certain, comes in from the cold to strike up a conversation with my teacher and say hello to the resident pup. I can tell straight away this is a familiar exchange, and I so loved how my teacher apparently made this “less fortunate” woman feel so respected.  She gave her the time of day, engaged in her mundane small talk, and listened, earnestly, to her disjointed stories and sentences.

The woman asked my teacher if she would buy her a piece of pizza. I was getting ready to walk in that direction, and sensed that their conversation might not otherwise have a neat and easy conclusion, so I offered to help her out with lunch instead. I can’t really recall many other details other than it was absolutely freezing out as her and I made our way down College St. together, and that rather than me doing some sort of good deed, she was the one helping me out. Her muddled narration ended up sticking with me all these years later. She was explaining some of her daily challenges, and somewhere in the middle of it all, she turned and looked right into my eyes, right into my heart, and said, “I don’t know how Jesus made me so strong, but he did.” It was alarmingly coherent, and profound; unexpected to say the least from how I initially sized up the situation. Felt like something I needed to hear.

What I love about this sort of mismatched combination of recollections is the comfort I take in what I learned from it all. Trust the process. In order to create something shiny and beautiful, you have to hold only one tool at a time (I, decidedly, had a habit of holding many…), and be willing to invest hours in attention to detail. More importantly, it was the gift I was given of seeing the blinding sparkle of the unexpected treasures. Sometimes the things, the people if you will, that aren’t so polished are the ones that are actually the strongest, and are deeply and truly the most wonderful.