Angelic clay creations were in full flight in the Hope Centre this week. I decided to put my sculpting skills to good use and invited Ken to help me. Ken is a regular to the Hope Centre although he doesn’t usually engage in crafts. His first words to me were ‘I can’t do that’ but as people watched Ken work and encouraged him, he continued his scoring and shaping. As Ken saw that his creation was good, he continued and smiled. By the end of our craft time he was reshaping what I had done – apparently my angel was too muscular. We joked about who would take the angel home when it was fired, I’m sure Ken’s angel will take pride of place in his quiet home this Christmas.
Debra is our Wednesday day manager, a teacher and a potter, she has worked with many of our visitors since we opened 2 years ago.
I asked her:
Why do you offer arts and crafts at the Hope Centre?
Picasso said “Art washes away the dust from everyday life”- I would agree with this. However, I believe there are intimations of the divine whilst engaging in creative activities. A significance that points towards the giver of life and breath, the One who breathes inspiration into our hearts and minds – our Heavenly Father.
What does your art session look like?
We gather around a white wooden table with our coffee and muffins while children dance excitedly around our feet. Amidst the chaos, it is here that the divine unfolds: planning, discussing and implementing the art & craft project; healing and a form of catharsis takes place. Participants (and HC volunteers) feel their defensive walls collapsing and a sense of peace and safety replaces the cold fallen bricks of the wall. Much is discussed: we share our hopes and dreams; challenges and sorrows; or perhaps, whether or not the color blue should be used instead of green for the foliage in the painting!
Over coffee, paintbrushes, and glue, we laugh, empathize and sometimes cry. The safe HC environment allows for repressed thoughts and feelings to surface; where they can be given a voice and then simply be received by listening hears with tender hearts. Feeling the emotion, processing it, they can sometimes move on.
Arts and Crafts are a vehicle for expression and communication of our innermost thoughts and feelings. Feelings that perhaps words cannot express can be sometimes reflected in a piece of art. Artistic endeavors allow for our individual human narrative to be told and shared with the world. Our art piece, whether it is a grand acrylic painting or macaroni glued on the back of a cardboard cereal box says: I was here and that it matters.
Can you share any stories of hope from your sessions?
A new/drop-in participant was having a particularly hard day. She decided to participate in the day’s art activity: creating an African collage/painting. Tears began to well in her eyes and she told me that I couldn’t know it, but being there that day being able to feel joy and have the ability to express herself in a visual way, “saved her life that day-literally”
Another group lady who has a large brood of children and struggles to make ends, meet told me that she looks forward all week to spending her Wednesdays at the HC where she feels love and friendship. She said it confirms to her “she is not alone in this”. The support she receives from both the HC volunteers and the other visitors builds her up and helps her cope with difficult life issues she faces when she returns home.
One of ladies needed help with getting donated clothing to the church. I went to her house and after loading bags in my car; she gave me a tour of her modest home. Scattered throughout her entire home, were her arts & crafts treasures that she and her daughter made at the HC. She proudly displayed the items on glass shelves; a fireplace mantle and her paintings were hung on the walls. Her proudly displayed creations revealed something of the goodness in her soul.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Art connects us to the divine; to our Heavenly Father who delights in our creations. By creating, we honor God, the Great Creator! It is here that I find fulfillment and joy while sharing my skills and blessings.
Thanks Debra, we appreciate all you do.
Back to Ken, who sits with us, eats with us and often falls asleep in the Hope Centre. I see more than a man who is having a go at crafts as he put it ‘like a girl’. I see this verse all around him… and for everyone who walks through the doors.
‘Still, Eternal One, You are our Father. We are just clay, and You are the potter. We are the product of Your creative action, shaped and formed into something of worth.’ Isaiah 64:8
I asked a few visitors why they came…
*Because I like to meet new friends, get free clothes, go on the internet and play piano sometimes.
*I come because its cozy and for the good people.
*It’s a safe place and I wouldn’t ever go out otherwise.
*Because the resource centre sent me.
*Because I’m cold.
Then one man sang me a song:
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
You can see why this is my favorite place – I hope this inspires you!
See you tomorrow,
Love, Michelle xoxo
**Hope Centre is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10-2 at Willow Park Church.
We serve a free, healthy hot lunch daily at 11.30 at ‘the table’. All welcome!
We also offer baby supplies to families in need – diapers, formula and wipes.
Hope to meet you there!**
All of the above art completed by Hope Centre visitors.