We were fresh from our glorious trip to Ecuador, heading down a very snowy and blowy highway towards a little church near Mitchell, Manitoba. I'd driven past it often enough on my way to visit my parents, or get to the grocery store. I liked the sense of disrupting my typical pattern of driving past, and instead, took a sharp right turn onto the driveway. It strikes me as peculiar that there are places we never go to, and have no sense of belonging with until something happens to change all that, and that benign place you've always driven past becomes your destination.
What had begun at the retreat was growing little shoots and stems, the first which was to occur at this little church on Easter Sunday. Armed with my Ipad, which held the records of all the hours I spent on prep for that glorious women's retreat, I approached the podium with joy in my step. It was even easier the second time to share the story of the bags4darfur project. I felt grateful for everything I heard myself say, and realized again that I'd inadvertently become a part of something ordinary but miraculous.
One of the themes that I focused a little more intentionally on was that of death and resurrection. It wasn't a contrived attempt at being relevant at Easter time in a church, but more a like an exciting time to share out loud something that I've learned over and over again during the years of sewing, selling, being excited, being bored, feeling exhilarated, feeling totally dead, dried up, has-been, even mildly embarrassed. I've learned (often kicking and screaming and panicking) that death is an important part of rebirth. Death must be accepted, even embraced if you're mature enough to push it that far. I usually cower and wail, snivel and worry myself. Still, I've tried never to force the project. I've tried not to push out bags that I'm bored of (although I still have done that, its part of the monotony of a longer term project). I've tried not to keep riding a wave when it seems clear that it's turned into a tepid parking lot puddle.
And I have been going through a rather dead stage. No energy for creativity. Sick and tired of photographing and uploading, and deciding on prices, and maintaining sites, followers, and e-mails. I've been hard on myself about that sometimes, but still sure about the conviction not to force anything that really wasn't coming from the heart.
So when Bonnie approached me about sharing the story at her retreat, I got a new glimmer of excitement. I could spend some time re-reading all the years I'd recorded on the blog, I could write it all out in some coherent way, and then I could speak it out in one continuous dialogue. I was also intimidated and afraid, but it felt like the good kind of fear that stretches and grows a person.
Almost immediately following that first presentation, I was asked to do a repeat performance at Mitchell Community Church. Because they were going easy on me, and allowing me to simply repeat it all verbatim off my ipad, I quickly agreed. It felt like a rebirth again. A new way to breathe life into the continuing passion of doing something tangible for situations that are much too big to change, but ought not to be ignored. And it felt amazing to do it in another way- in speaking out, lipstick on, clothing unstained, looking out across a room of adults! So much of what I've done for bags 4 darfur has been amidst the clutter of my home, un-showered, wearing clothing sprinkled in ketchup and chocolate chips, multi-tasking kids, food, fabric bits, pets, and feeling like the only adult in townships and ranges.
There are new tentacles and shoots growing out of bags4darfur, and I'm lucky to be the happy gardener. It's been a pretty terrible winter, and for all the pinning in the world, I've been hard pressed to garner the right kind of inspiration to truly pour myself into creating. The opportunities to write and speak have given me new hope, and a tentative excitement for new things on the horizon.
Meanwhile, I have been approached by the manager of Ten Thousand Villages, plaza drive, Winnipeg to partner with her store in celebrating World Fair Trade Day on May 11. She has graciously offered to give me a spot in the store to sell bags, promote the project, and take part in the day's festivities. They will allow me to donate any money from the sale of bags to the project of my choice. Interestingly enough, I had just done a little research for the most recent donation of $777.00 and found that Mennonite Central Committee
is part of a project entitled:
MCC’s Sudan: Coming Home campaign, a five-year campaign ending in 2013, enables MCC to support projects including those that empower women, strengthen livelihoods, build peace, promote nonviolent solutions to conflict and improve food security.
Each year 20 women in the capital city of Juba, South Sudan, participate in a six-month training program where they learn sewing, life skills and small business management skills with the hope of building a better future for themselves and their children.
How cool that the money I just donated to MCC was going to be part of a project to empower women, and teach someone how to sew?! And then the funny little connection to MCC's Ten Thousand Villages, following so quickly on the heels of that discovery.
In this endless winter on the prairies, these signs of resurrection and rebirth are particularly exciting.
And now, I must sew!