Friday, July 20, 2012

God's hand on the pot

Listen to post:
It may be too late for Angel and Alivia, Jordan and Jihad, but witnessing how they blossomed in the art room will never leave me. In fact, it drives me to (re)create that crucible for others: kids our society may have left behind. Kids that live in subsidized housing a stone's throw from me, in my neighborhood. Kids that touched my heart with their creativity, inquisitiveness and openness. Kids that just want to be seen, affirmed and receive a touch of childhood. For some, it may be all they have.

My intention is to capture that magic, helping another group tap their inner artist and awaken their self expression. Mostly, I want them to show their beauty to the world and themselves.

My tenure six years ago assisting in my daughters' elementary art room has profoundly affected me and, now, my life, as I begin an arts exploration for fourth, fifth and sixth graders in my re-purposed neighborhood school classroom. I remember getting that fortuitous call from my youngest's first-grade teacher: "How would you like to help out in the art room, we have FORTY first graders with SCISSORS and ONE teacher?" My heart immediately said yes. 

This art teacher has the gift of bringing out the best in all children. She bubbles with infectious, creative energy. In her art room, students are all equals and, as such, expected to do their best creatively. Shy kids opened. Kids with behavior issues channeled that energy into their art. Kids that have to play adult at home, got to be a kid for awhile. Kids that felt invisible elsewhere, were seen and encouraged. Kids that struggled with academics, found a home where they excelled and where process was valued over product. Labels disappeared along with anxiety and negative identity.

I don't know whether I'll be able to pull that off, but I am not alone in this work. Not by a long shot.

First off, there's God who has been calling me to this for a very long time. She patiently waited until the timing was right, growing her whispers to broadcasts I could not ignore.

My husband and daughters have been with me all of the way, encouraging me when I could not see the light. 

My Quaker community has been on board from the beginning. I have been the beneficiary of a number of clearness committees, when others listen for where God is working in on person's life, a congregation that has taken this project under its wings and a dear care committee. The Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment http://pickettendowment.quaker.org helped pay rent and the Good News Associates http://goodnewsassoc.org offered up a grant to cover supplies. Both are Quaker-based.

I have a dream team of an advisory/action committee whom God collected. Their gifts are over-flowing into this work. They include: the incredible art teacher who started all of this; another fabulous teacher who regularly visits this community on her own time; my recently retired sister-in-law with whom I have been aching to do something creative; my best friend and able facilitator (she makes things happen); a longtime Quaker pal who has been with this before I even knew what it was; an enthusiastic, wise-cracking neighbor with a big heart and non-profit/ministry background; and a newcomer with lots of energy and grounding.

And I can not forget the Quakers and Facebook friends, neighbors, family members and acquaintances who have donated crayons so each of 150 kids at this complex receive a pack when we host an arts sampler/registration for Artsy Fartsy Saturdays next month.

Three months ago, none of this was in place … except in the heart of God.

Wow, I can’t even take it all in.

• How have I seen seeds planted by God grow?
• How have they been watered and nurtured?
• What others has it drawn into my path?
• How has the heart of God opened to me?
• How has that transformed me?

listless and waiting
for what,
I am not certain

sure enough
a call came

and it seemed
simple enough
to say yes to

answering gave
me one of
the best years
of my life

then it was over

though I wasn’t done

and bigger
was percolating

with God’s
hand on the pot
and in my heart

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