Sunday, July 08, 2012

What Do You Want to Make Today?

It's not an easy question to answer, if we are used to doing what we are expected to do to graduate or to pass this portion of the class. We live in a pragmatic, utilitarian world in which our "bottom line" questions usually deal with questions of usefulness or profitablity; often these decisions are made in a Darwinian competition of who can win out the battle to be the most powerful, to take what you can out of life. In the scarcity mindset of such a dehumanized system, we usually ask "what can I take from you today?" What do I take from others, or to do as little as I can to get the maximum results, and we do not ask "What do you want to make today?" Deep questions of life are the same whether you are at a starting point or at an ending point. Would you make today a future that is worth beholding? Will you choose to dedicate your days to creating a world that is worth passing onto your children?

~ Makoto Fujimura
The artist Makoto Fujimura was the keynote speaker at this year's ChildLightUSA Conference. My dear friend Bonnie Buckingham instigated this after she read Refractions, a collections of essays originally written for Makoto's blog. A series of events led Bonnie to New York City to attend an arts conference and to see the Four Holy Gospels paintings on display at the Museum of Biblical Art. I didn't really understand why she saw connections between his thinking and Mason's until Bonnie gave me a copy of his book to thank me for speaking on mathematics and special needs for homeschoolers in the Charlotte area. I'm only half of the way through the essays, and his ideas dovetail very well with Mason.

My favorite essay is based on a blog post called Bert's Disappearing Weather Maps. Back in 1983,  Mako worked with special needs students who didn't fit inside the box of special needs programs. He saw extraordinary gifts in a young man named Bert who drew weather maps aired on the previous night's news broadcast on the blackboard with his spit. This perseverance disgusted and annoyed most adults, but not Mako. Treating Bert as a person with unique gifts, he invited unusual artist to make a mural of a weather map on the bulletin board with markers. “No one’s ever asked me to draw a weather map before in school; they just complained about it” was the enthusiastic response. Through their relationship of mutual respect, Mako convinced Bert that drawing with tap water was healthier because eating chalk every day might not be good for his health. He concludes with the same ideas I have about Pamela and her job prospects in this dead-end economy: "I also knew that the society that would make Bert 'useful' by giving him menial jobs after his graduation would not be as kind."

So, what do you want to make today?

Lately, I have been on a needlework binge. My basket of leftover yarn sits there blinking at me, waiting to be transformed into something other than a ball of yarn. I always have my eye on making gifts for Steve, who is working Kansas, away from our cozy home. To keep him from feeling lonely, Pamela and I have been making things for him that surround him with beauty and love. Everyone of Pamela's  watercolors that we have framed so far adorn the walls of his apartment. Last December, I finally finished my magnum opus (five years in the making, I think) to keep him warm on chilly winter days. I crocheted half a dozen coasters with the scrap yarn and still had scrap of the scrap yarn.

Then, I saw a pattern for making reusable Swiffer cloths. Why not make something beautiful that saves me a chunk of change? A small piece of something in Kansas is here in Carolina, and, whenever I do one of my least favorite things (housework), the colors will remind me of Steve.

A homeschooling friend sent Pamela and me handmade bracelets that her daughter knitted. So, I returned the favor and fingerknitted a pair of scarves.

What do you want to make today?

Then, a Facebook friend, who's also a skin friend, tagged me on picture of a knitted coffee cozy. What a perfect gift for Steve, who I think was weaned on coffee! Only it needs to be crocheted (my better medium when it comes to needlework) that will take advantage of colors in my scrap yarn. Ooooo, I really like that one! Only, it needs to have a steaming cup of Joe instead of a tea bag as an embellishment and a built in coaster. And, the potholder I had been crocheting for him disappeared to the backburner....

What do you want to make today? 

Pamela is learning to knit, and she has all but one little step of the garter stitch down (blog post to follow on teaching her to knit as well as making her own wooden needles). She picked out hot pink for a baby blanket for her four "babies".

Pamela loves to doodle, especially on church friendship pads. Something about them sets her creative juices in motion. Every Sunday, she fills them with doodles. Some might assume she isn't paying attention but do not let that fool you. Today, we were visiting a different church to hear my friend's husband preach. While we recited the Lord's Prayer, Pamela doodled. As soon as we finished, she looked at me pointedly and said, "Which!" She noticed that our church says "which are in heaven" while this church choses the more familiar "who."

Since I haven't posted any of Pamela's watercolors in awhile, I thought you might like to know that she is still going strong in making beautiful things.

Pamela's Latest Watercolors

1 comment:

Bonnie Buckingham said...

Pamela makes me want to watercolor! Yes, what do you want to make today? Such a good, good question! It can change your life. CM would have been looking for Makoto Fujimura!