Vigilante Kindness: Paper Poem Beads

Yesterday I wrote about how God makes beautiful, new things out of old, wrecked things.  What got me to thinking about this in the first place is this little Vigilante Kindness Paper Bead Jewelry Project that’s in the very baby stages.

This project started with a conversation with my friend Denis about his wife, Vickie, and how she wants to be a businesswoman.

Vickie and some other women in Te Okot know how to make paper bead jewelry.  In fact, some of the men, including Denis, know how to make beads, too.  I wanted to bring Vickie a gift the next time I went to Te Okot, so I bought her some jewelry making tools and supplies.

The one thing that had me stumped was where to get the paper.  Slick, shiny, colorful magazine paper would work best, but it’s not like there’s a magazine stand on the corner in or anywhere near Te Okot.  I can think of two bookstores in Gulu.  They carry textbooks, dictionaries and Bibles.

Earlier in my trip, I’d stopped at the stationery store and picked up two blank sheets of poster paper to use in the poetry workshops I was teaching.  The posters were baby blue because that’s the only color the stationery store had and I bought their last two sheets.

I penned George Ella Lyon’s earthen poem Where I’m From on the posters, my handwriting slanting perilously downward as I wrote the words in pungent, permanent black ink.

I took these posters back and forth with me to class, rolled up in my backpack as I rode on the back of a boda to school, then taped with duct tape on the makeshift blackboard and finally rolled back up into my backpack at the end of each class.

By the time the writing workshops came to an end, my posters were covered in chalkdust from all the notes we added on the board around the poems.  The edges of the posters were red with the dust that blew into the classroom and also kicked up underneath the tires of the boda.  They were splattered with mud from puddles of fresh rain and polka-dotted with water spots from the rain itself.

My tattered posters were destined for the trash, that is until I found out that Vickie needed paper for jewelry making.  The posters weren’t the slick, colorful magazine paper that’s best for bead making, but they were what I had.

This seems like a lesson I have to learn over and over again.  What I’ve got to offer is enough, even when it’s tattered and splotched with mud.  It’s enough.

I passed off my poster to Denis who took it home and made beads with Vickie.  By the time I returned home, my mud stained, used up poster had been made into beautiful beads.

paper beadsI love these beads because they’re proof that stained, wrecked things can be made new.  Broken, wrecked people like me can be made new.  That’s another lesson that I have to keep learning.  Maybe the broken, wrecked parts of you need that whispered in the cracks, too.

I love these beads because poetry is tucked into them.  The black parts of the beads are my lopsided scribblings of George Ella Lyon’s gorgeous words.

I love these beads because the lighter parts of the beads are the water spots from a day when I was caught in a rainstorm, drenched down through all the layers of myself.

Most of all, I love these beads because they mean that Vickie and the women of Te Okot get the opportunity to be a businesswomen who are able to earn money and feed and clothe their children.

When I return to Te Okot in July, I’m bringing Vickie a suitcase full of magazines.  Your magazines and my magazines, once destined for the trash, or the recycle bin at best, will be made into jewelry. Second chances never looked so beautiful.

magazines

 

 

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