Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"A teaspoon of light in the darkest tunnel"

Originally posted on my blog.  To see Bill Charlebois' prompt, check his blog.  For more, join our group!
Image created for Collage Obsession Challenge with  the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

Over at 14 Secrets we are missing our friend Deb Gilchrist.  We have several art projects that we are working on in order to channel our feelings, soothe our grief, and create gifts for each other and Deb's family.  One of the activities we are working on is a garland of inspiration and healing.  We are actually creating paper chains from links inspired by daily prompts.  Today was my turn to provide the prompt.  I had been watching a most wonderful video about some work being done with the Christchurch earthquake and this clip really got me thinking.  

Peter O'Conner (Associate Professor at the School of Critical Studies in Education of Auckland University) was working in the rubble in the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan China and previous to that with victims of abuse and violence, using drama and art education to provide therapeutic activities for folks struggling in that situation.  Now he’s part of the Auckland University initiative which offers arts based workshops to Christchurch earthquake victims. These workshops are creative responses for schools, very practical strategies, ways to deal with, make sense of what happened.  They are not doing this as "therapists" he emphasizes.

In one particularly amazing workshop he tells the first lines of a story.
“A girl gets up and gets ready to visit her grandmother.  As she is getting ready, she trips and tears her cloth of dreams.”  Peter then says "Normally I would have a picture book and show you what that would look like, but I don’t have one with me.  So can you imagine what it would be like to tear you cloth of dreams?"
One child says "I think all the dreams disappear."
Another child says "I think it's the saddest thing that could happen to you if you tear your cloth of dreams."
Peter then says "Could we create a new cloth of dreams?"   The children use crayons on plain muslin filling it with all wonderful things.
Peter then suggests that maybe the girl in the story would be able to repair her cloth of dreams if she had the right thread.  “And if we could create a thread that could repair anyone’s cloth of dreams, wouldn’t that be great?”  So he asks "What would the recipe be for the magic thread, to repair this cloth of dreams of the little girl who tripped and tore her cloth while getting ready to see her grandmother?"

There were many wonderful answers but here’s one little girl’s particularly poignant list:
"…for special thread you will need:
1 tsp of light in the darkest tunnel
10 cups of love
2 tsp of belief
1/2 cup of adventure
3/4 cup of hope"

Finally they had a very complete list so Peter asked, “how would you combine them?”  "You need a cloud bowl to put everything in."

So they created an imaginary “cloud bowl,” that they all held in the center of their circle.  And then they put the various elements into the cloud bowl.  Peter asked for sensory type descriptions of these elements.  Is 2 tsp. of belief light or heavy?  What color is love?  Does hope have a scent?  And with each description, the element went into the bowl.

Finally the little girl who had the list above said “now we need the teaspoon of light in the darkest tunnel.” The teachers all had tears in their eyes.  Everyone had a sharp intake of breath as if to say, did she really just say that?  Did someone in our room really say that?  It was what Peter called a "the moment of gift" recognized by everyone in the room.  Then Peter asked “how do you add a teaspoon of light in the darkest tunnel to our cloud bowl?”  The little girl said, “you need to sprinkle the light in,” as she mimed sprinkling a teaspoon of light into the cloud bowl.  “See,” she said, “the light goes through everything!" 

Just beautiful!

So my prompt for us was "what would we add to the recipe for this magical thread that would repair our cloth of dreams?" 

1 comment:

Looby Loo said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It's totally inspiring and showas the power of the the imagination to heal and provide hope. I came to your blog via Barb Kobe, and I love it!
Great work,


p.s I'm an artist and art therapist too