“I have worked hard to give up attaining a place ordained by others in the world, for this always leads me into noise, confusion, and gruffness.”
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening, p.192)
I attended an art auction last night as the guest of my friend, Rebecca. The auction was to raise money for a program for adults with autism spectrum disorders. It was a tremendous success by anyone's standards—hundreds of people, a good band, not blasting everyone's ears off, and delicious food and drink. Loads of art was sold, and the artists with autism received 60% of the proceeds from the sale of their art. The woman who founded, and still runs the program, Studio by the Tracks, in Irondale, Alabama, has the most Southern of all Southern names—Ila Faye Miller. (Irondale is the setting for Fannie Farmer's book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The restaurant is still there; still serves truly yummy Southern soul food.)
Ila Faye is a quiet, unobtrusive person, who gave up a life of wealth and privilege to move into the upper floor of a small, white two story building in Irondale, which is literally by the tracks. She started the Studio by the Tracks program in 1989, and today has a fleet of volunteers and part time employees who provide classes and guidance to the many people who come there everyday. Last night, in that warehouse full of patrons of the arts, you would never have picked Ila Faye out as the CEO of a flagship program.
Mark Nepo records in The Book of Awakening a quote from the Oracle of Sumiyoshi, Japan: “I have no power of miracle other than the attainment of quiet happiness. I have no tact except the exercise of gentleness.” In a world in which we equate power with people who are gold-clad and ostentatiously wealthy, I would refer you to Ila Faye Miller. Her quiet happiness, and obvious success comes from hard work, perseverance, and a genuinely gentle spirit that draws people to her like a superconducting magnet. That's the power of her miracle, and it works not only for her, but for “the least of these.”
In the Spirit,