Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The road to friendship and collaboration
Last spring I was lucky enough to visit a part of this country that I had only read about previously. I had not taken a "real" vacation in a few years and it had been even longer since I did any serious volunteer work. Since it had been more then 10 years since I had combined the two, I looked up Global Citizens Network. This is an organization with which I had traveled in the past and enjoyed meeting new friends, seeing parts of the world I might not have otherwise.
I wasn't looking for a lengthy trip as some of their trips can be when going to other countries. Since I had already taken a trip within the Navajo Nation, I was looking for something a little different. When I checked their website, I found they had a new site - Faith Hill, located in Owsley County, Kentucky. About a 2 hour drive south east of Lexington, it is situated in the Eastern Coal Field region of the state, which stretches from the Appalachian Mountains westward across the Cumberland Plateau to the Pottsville Escarpment. I found the beauty of this part of the country breathtaking.
The site consists of wonderful old log buildings including a church, a Manse (house occupied by a minister or parson) and a hospital. They were built in the area in the 1930’s by missionaries from Pennsylvania. They served the community well, but were abandoned sometime in the 70's and fell into a state of disrepair. About 15 years ago, community members developed a non-profit organization to restore the buildings. In order to get to the site one travels some beautiful back roads in the hills and ultimately hits a gravel only road which takes you the last few miles to Faith Hill. The road pictured above is the gravel road that takes you to the site.
How does this relate to beading? I met some wonderful friends on this trip, fellow travelers/volunteers. We also met a few very special people in Kentucky. I formed a close bond with a couple of my team members - sisters, one from Oregon (Bobbie), one from Minnesota (Anne). Bobbie is multi talented, she knits, she beads, she sews and quilts. Anne is a talented painter, embroiderer and knitter as well. They are creative and inspiring, individually and frankly pretty fun to be around. We stayed in touch after our trip to KY and thought it would be nice to collaborate on something we could donate to be placed in the Manse were we had such a wonderful stay and made so many happy memories.
I started with bead embroidery, all I knew for sure was the shape with which I wanted to work as I felt this experience had a special place in my heart. After completing my piece, I mailed it off to Bobbie, where she added it to her beautiful quilting. Once Bobbie finished the quilting and added the beaded heart, she sent it off to her sister Anne. She put the finishing touches on it with embroidery, and a small rod from which to hang the piece. Once it was completed I was awestruck. To this day, it is one of my favorite pieces. The completed piece is about 14x14. I wish the photos did it justice, but I don't think that's ever possible.
The sad part of this whole thing... this was completed almost a year ago and it still does not hang in the Manse for which it was intended. As can sometimes happen, one person has it in their possession somewhere in Kentucky and has not had time to put it up. There is where our little creation with so much love poured into sits, with a promise that it will be hung at it's intended spot someday. I can only hope...
After this quilt square was completed, the three of us made two others. There were several special people at that site that helped us tremendously, they are hard working, kind people with generous hearts and loving spirits. They are the reason I have been back to this place 4 times since my first visit.
Two of them are brothers... Lonnie and Wayne. Lonnie has a cabin up the road from Faith Hill and Wayne is in the process of building one now. We made quilt squares for each of them to hang in their cabins.
The blue quilt square was made for Lonnie. Again, Bobbie did all the quilting, Anne the embroidery and I added the little beaded square once it was all done.
Wayne's square is based on the 'log cabin' pattern (I learned that from Bobbie - I know nothing about quilting). Bobbie gave the the measurements to bead the inner square and when I finished it - sent it off to her to work her magic in adding it to the quilt square. Anne, finished it off with embroidered doves.
I love each of these squares, what they represent, the people to which they were presented and my new friends that help design and create them.
Leaves of Grass
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body - Walt Whitman