Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Pass the love around!
For the last 19 years I have been making clay hearts. They were created 19 years ago for a little group of women who were in a special treatment program for women who needed to deal with their alcohol and drug addictions and a friend of mine and I, who had just founded our non profit, Sophia Center, were asked to go in and do the Higher Power talk. I knew that there was no way in early recovery, that the women would remember anything we said, so being a clay artist, I wanted to give them a small token made of clay that would be a tangeable sign of hope and healing from Higher Power that they could connect with well after we were gone. My friend suggested we make them heart-shaped and the Hearthstones were born. That was 19 years ago. Back then, I didn't realize I would be making little valentines from God for the next 2 decades! I have no idea how many thousands, millions, maybe, I have made or have gotten others to help me make over the years. What I do know, however, is that it is a labor of love I cherish everyday. It is an honor and a blessing to have this job. There have been some years when I have actually had a few employees make them for and with me, but, for the most part it is my daily work. I have had many, many people tell me the stories of how they came to have one or who they have shared theirs with. I never realized when I made that first batch that it would be a career for me to make, well, "valentines from God." Some of the stories bring tears to my eyes. I know why they are so powerful, too. Each and every one is prayed over as it is transformed from a big chunk of clay into a lovely and simple clay heart. In the first 10 years when our center was located in the old laundry building at Marylhurst, we had what we called "Hearthtalks" where ordinary women and sometimes men sat around the table sharing their lives with one another. While we talked we smoothed the sharp edges of the freshly cut and stamped hearts, while they were still unfired and a bit like leather. It was like an old fashioned quilting bee of sorts. Someone always brought snacks and we usually had someone lead the discussion so there was some flow to our sharing. While we worked, each woman loved the little stack of hearts she was smoothing, silently intending that whoever ended up with her hearts would be blessed with what ever they most needed at the moment. This has been the nearly 20 year intent behind these magical little clay hearts. They are out there, too. People would call me and say that they went for a walk in some state park near where they lived and left hearthstones along the way in hopes that the right person would find a much needed surprise in their path. Many have found their way into the knapsacks of combat soldiers as a reminder that they are loved, no matter what. I like to think that this work is "seeding the consciousness of the future" as well, because some of them will endure and future generations will unearth them at just the right moment in their life. My hope is that it will come true, as the first little group of women wished, that if we just kept making them and sending them out, that someday everyone on the planet would have one in their pocket. We shall see, I know I will do my best to fulfill that mandate.I have had much help, both seen and unseen to do just that. Happy Valentine's Day!