heart(aches) and petals
prayers for children suffering
swiftly to and fro
Ronovan’s weekly haiku challenge words immediately spoke to me. Yesterday was tutoring day with School on Wheels. Victor, Bentley and DeAnthony always show up happy to do art and math, eating their lunch before they become artists for half-hour. They skip play time on the playground with friends and never seem to miss being outside. There is never a word or action to indicate they rather be elsewhere. Lost in their imagination.
Victor is quite rambunctious. Bentley is thought to have autism but you could fool me. He is always alert and engaged. DeAnthony is sweet and challenged academically. He is much further behind his peers. He struggles with writing numbers. Yesterday they wrote their numbers from 1-20 with oil pastels and then washed over them with watercolors. DeAnthony’s art was dark and gloomy. Victor was careful to keep in the lines with subdued colors. Bentley took a long time, steadily perfecting each number. He finished painting five numbers, with bright colors. His work remains incomplete. Perhaps next week.
For inspiration we looked at Jasper John’s paintings.
just paint paintings without a conscious –Jasper John
I am excited to volunteer again with a wonderful non-profit in Indianapolis, School on Wheels. Often, my hour spent tutoring is the highlight of my week. The children’s genuine eagerness, smiles as wide as the room they abide and the hope we tutors impart carries us through our own problems, which pale in comparison. Our efforts are a tiny step in a massive problem with the homeless but very worthwhile.
This year I will be with kindergartners, teaching Math with Art. Wednesday was my first day and I met Victor one of a few who I will spend time with in 2016-2017. We ate lunch together, talked a bit and soon delved into numbers, counting and making string art. They created something to be proud. Since there is a two week vacation I will visit again October 19. I wait in anticipation.
The difficult part is never truly knowing the impact we make later in the child’s life. I pray for each child as I remember their faces, personalities and courage. Below I share a past memory as I will remember others throughout the year.
**This story is from 2013-2014. I was volunteering in the evenings at a women’s homeless shelter where the kids came downstairs while the mother’s went to a Bible Study. The boy was a 6th grader with a shelled exterior, a force to reckon. I did not push with any attempt to coerce him into doing his homework. He obviously did not want to be there so we sat in silence, his back towards me. There is only an hour to be together and after a half-hour I was resigned to sit alone with a boy sitting next to me who must have been thinking about something because he turned and started talking about life on the school bus. Boys were bullying him, stealing his backpack, making fun that he cared about school and otherwise making his life miserable. I listened. I felt inadequately prepared to help. I could not ride the bus with him, confront the bullies. Even if I could what boy would want a woman defending him? I can only hope things have gotten better. That his family was able to move out of the city*.
Perhaps he will one day inspire another person to confront life. In America that is possible.
*I have been watching an HBO series The Wire, on Netflix, which is very true to inner city life. I am sheltered from poverty of spirit and materials. What answers are available besides crime against themselves and others? Is fighting the only way out? What hope can exist for those squandered to live under the feet of their brothers?
This reminds me of a walk downtown, with my husband, which I think to go write. Be blessed. J
I have a macabre fascination with artists who have committed suicide. One, because I love art and the creative process and two, because I have family history of suicides and suicide ideation. In my quest to understand the mind of a person who desires nothing more than to be absent from the present, I have read and reread countless books. Recently, a van Gogh painting was advertised as being on display at the IMA and I knew immediately that I needed to make that a summer destination. This past Saturday my dream came true. I stood before van Gogh’s Landscape at Saint-Remy, 1889, and was blown away by the amount of paint, the number of brush strokes, the myriad of colors and the sheer fortitude he showed in completing a true masterpiece. His painting was by far my favorite of all the works seen, including Gaugahn, Pissarro, Monet and Rembrandt.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”
–Vincent van Gogh
Volunteering at a homeless shelter I come across so many with those same sentiments. There is a little van Gogh in each of us.