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Hope in a Jar

January 3, 2003

One of the exercises in The Artist’s Way is to establish a God Jar, a place to put slips of paper upon which you’d write your hopes and dreams and problems that you wanted God’s help with. I skipped this exercise. Who was I to be telling God what to do? Over the past few weeks, though, I’ve been feeling it’s time to revisit the idea. I don’t think I’m ready to direct the divine, but I am ready to try a new approach to situations I can’t control. Writing down a problem and physically putting it away with a wish for help from a higher power can’t be any less effective than fretting and worrying and stewing and wringing my hands because I can’t fix it.

So now I’ve decided I want my own God Jar, but I haven’t decided what container to use. It needs to have a lid, for certain; I don’t want the problems falling out once I’ve dispatched them to God’s care. That leaves out the basket my mom made, which I still haven’t found anyway. I have plenty of other options, though (maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t gotten much decluttering done). The challenge is finding something that’s an appropriate vessel for such important thoughts. Putting my hopes in a plastic container that most recently held leftovers just doesn’t seem right, nor does stashing them in a commemorative Crayola crayons tin. My best idea so far is a stone box from Jerusalem my mother-in-law gave me; surely something from that land is a God Jar worthy. The only problem is its size; I’m not sure it’s big enough to hold more than a few problems at a time, and I don’t want to have to keep sorting through my issues to figure out which one can come out each time I want to put a new one. But I think I’ll start with the little stone box anyway. Maybe it’ll work better than I think, and I’d rather start now than wait until I find just exactly the right container.

One of the hopes I wanted to put in my God Jar has already been realized. A few months ago, I heard about United We Quilt, a project founded to make memory quilts for families affected by the September 11 attacks. I knew that it was something I wanted to do, that making a quilt celebrating a person’s life would be better than making the quilt I’d sketched out in my mind soon after the attacks, the one that would use the yardage I bought in the immediate aftermath, tangled red, white and blue stripes and the angels on grey that fit my mood then. Lots of other quilters have made quilts in response to the attacks, with powerful images, but I’ve been dragging my feet on starting mine. I’m not ready to spend that much time reflecting on the event; I still haven’t been able to watch the documentary Mr. Karen taped for me to see, for heaven’s sake. But a memory quilt for a family who’d lost someone, a quilt that recalled happy times, that I could do. I volunteered to be a quilter for United We Quilt, but at the time there were no families who needed my services. The coordinator thought there would be more requests, though. I hoped she was right and hoped my name would come up to the top of the quilters needing families list soon. There wasn’t anything for me to do but wait (or make a God Jar). Then last week, the coordinator e-mailed to say there was a family I could quilt for, a woman who’d lost her husband in the World Trade Center. I was excited and then nervous as I wrote the letter introducing myself to the family. I mailed it off this morning and hope that I did it right, that this stranger I want to get to know will do me the honor of letting me document her memories.

Now instead of writing down my wish for a family to quilt for and placing it in my God Jar, I can write down my hope that I’ll be able to connect with the woman I’ve been matched with and that together we’ll create a wonderful tribute to her husband. Next, I’ll record my wish that my friend who was laid off just before Christmas finds a new situation which makes her happy and meets her needs, be that a new job or something else. Finally, I’ll pour out my hopes for healing and every other good thing for the friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks before her first child was due to be born. Right now, she’s recovering from both a c-section and a mastectomy and facing more medical tests and chemo instead of just enjoying being a mom to her new baby. That’s definitely something for God to work on. You go, God!

Holidailies has gone into extra time.

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