Ah the chaos that Tuesday brings. Once again.
And also the joy.
Today was Sister Circle day again. We have become quite the group. What started out as “let me offer paper and markers so folks can doodle while we talk” has turned into an art and talk and share and help each other session.
When I got there and was inviting folks to come in and join us, one lady laid her hand on my arm and asked, “Are you doing the beads today? Making jewelry?” (We made bracelets and necklaces with beads last week.)
“Oh, I’m sorry, ” I replied, “but no. We’re not.”
She looked so sad, but when I mentioned we were going to gather and do something else, her whole face lit up. One of our other new regulars asked her to come. I was ecstatic.
We had several of our regulars in attendance, but T and K were not there, which again, worried me. Relationships can be tough in any circumstance, but when you are vulnerable and in need, they can be particularly hard. I hope they are okay.
Today we talked about the eighth principle of Magdalene from “Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart” by Rev. Becca Stevens. “Let God sort it all out.”
The phrase alone brought nods and sounds of agreement from this group of beautiful and strong women I sat with today. We talked about how hard it is to let go. To wait. To sit back and NOT try to make things happen on our own. Somehow the conversation shifted into talking about the mindset of our culture–“I want it and I want it now.” Fast food, waiting “too long” in a grocery store or Wal-Mart line. The words “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” came out. That one really hit home with me. Needs versus wants–we talked a lot about that one and how confusing it is. Hard stuff.
And yet so good.
In preparation for our art pieces, we took strips of construction paper and tore them into bits, focusing on tearing up the things that we had a hard time letting go of–thoughts, control, words, pain, emotions, memories, darkness, sadness, brokenness. As we tore, we tried to really think about letting go of these things that had such a hold on us.
We then glued our pieces together in a mosaic. The idea is that we have all these little broken pieces in our life, and that is hard because we can’t see the big picture sometimes. But there is One who can see it, and it is beautiful. Broken pieces and all.
I designed a boat with my pieces. I had it sailing on dark waters, reminding me I do actually have to leave the safety of the harbor to get anywhere or do anything. My boat was extra big because there are people who will travel with me on whatever journey I’m on, and that is a comfort and something I need to remember, especially when the seas are stormy.
I love what came out of my sweet sisters’ minds and hearts and worked its way onto paper. As we created, we talked and laughed and shared. A beautiful time.
N is definitely an artist. She loves portraits. When we worked with watercolors, she painted a portrait of me, which touched my heart and made me cry. This is a mosaic of a man. She is a very quiet, introspective soul, so it was an honor to hear her share about her work.
B cracked me up. As she tore her pieces, she chatted away. “I’m not tearing mine small. Y’all sure are tearing yours small. I like this big. Anyone going to tell me mine’s don’t look good? Cause I like ’em big like this.” I love that her pieces were bright and vivid and bold, because that is every bit who she is. When she shared she talked about how these were her baby girl’s favorite colors, and she was making this for her. B plans to put this on her refrigerator, as soon as she gets her “some of those things that hold them on.” I’d smell a future project, but I don’t want to leave out those without a refrigerator or a home. We’ll see. I love B’s chattiness and teasing nature with these women whom she has come to know so well.
When G shared about her mosaic, she said, “My life used to be all red, black, and blue, but now I have sunshine in my life.” (She added the orange after she shared, almost as an afterthought, so I didn’t get to ask what that color represented.) G went to art school for a while, so she enjoys the art in a different way. She has a lot of pain and brokenness in her past, and I hope she was able to let a tiny bit go when she shared today. As she moved the little pieces this way and that, she said, “I just have to give it all to God and let the pieces fall where they may.” I love that. It is her piece in a nutshell. Letting go. A little bit at a time. Healing is a lifelong process, I am afraid.
My friend, sweet P. She is a helper. She drives several of these ladies where they need to be, including our Sister Circle. A quiet leader of sorts. I wondered where she was going as she tore, but I really love her story. Each “block” stands for a holiday and the colors are coordinating with each one. From top left–Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s with all the fireworks and confetti–so colorful, Valentine’s with the pink and red, Christmas and Christmas again, and then 4th of July. P said these are the happiest times for her as she and her family gather together many times, but especially for the holidays. Her love of her family is evident. I wonder if she’s the oldest–she seems to have the protective Mama Bear posture about her. And that is one of the things I love about her. (And it’s not just because when we talked about this, she said I did NOT look old enough to be a grandmother. Love. Her.)
Speaking of family, this is R’s work. She is a part of P’s family. Here she made a mosaic of a home with sunshine and clouds above, grass all around and a door–that is open. Open to family and friends and whoever needs to come in. She shared that if she had to choose one word to live by it would be “share.” Wow. That blew me away. She talked about being in recovery for six years now (You Go, Miss R!) and how she has come so far from those days, and yet she has to fight it every single day of her life. “When I was in the darkness and the brokenness, I was into everything. But now I’m into light.” Oh. My. Land. Bless her. She has a voice with important things to say. It is an honor to hear her share. She talked about having peace now, and how “did you know, some folks don’t even have peace?” B answered, “Uh huh, I want me one.” I just love these women, every single one. It moved me to tears when R talked about how much fear had taken from her all those years. Like she wasn’t even really alive. Amen, sister friend, amen.
Miss A was the last one to share. My new friend. The one who had taken my arm and was so excited to come and be a part of our group. She was so timid in the beginning, unsure if I had a certain way or certain thing I wanted her to create. No ma’am, I assured her, you do it just how you want and it’s yours to take with you. She smiled at that and worked so diligently. She said that all of these colors reminded her of nature and that made her happy. We talked about how we are made in the image of a Creator and so that means that there is an artist inside each of us–we’d shared this a couple of weeks back. I love that her picture reminds us of that, and I adore her pieces and their lack of uniformity. It is imperfectly perfect. I hope she continues to find joy in it. As she left she asked me if we would be back tomorrow. “No, next Tuesday.” She nodded and smiled broadly. “I’ll be here. I sure will.” So thankful for her stepping away from her safe harbor and joining us today.
Today with these bold and beautiful and precious women, I sat and was enthralled. With their stories, with the assuredness that comes from being broken but not torn, from hurt but not anger, from love not hatred. They amaze me, and I find myself looking forward to next Tuesday, to hear what wisdom will float through the room, looking for a place to land, in the midst of laughter and Black Cherry Cola and art supplies.
Glitter. Someone asked for glitter today. Oh my sweet sister friends, you outshine glitter by a thousandfold with your endearing smiles and resilient spirits and your willingness to share–fried chicken, napkins, glue, and advice. I love you. And because of that, you shall have your glitter. But it can never be as beautiful as that which you sprinkled on my soul today. Thank you.