Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon after watching Joe Biden’s inauguration. My eyes teared up through his speech, and Amanda Gordon’s poem, and Reverend Sylvester Beaman’s benediction. I feel relieved and hopeful after the nightmare of the last four years and the attack on the Capitol earlier this month. I thank God for this day. I am thankful that Biden is our new president, and I especially welcome his message of healing and unity. As I listened, my heart raised two prayers: Yes, God, make it so! and Show me what I must change in myself to help make the United States the country You want it to be.
To be a united country, and especially a united democracy, does not mean that we all share the same beliefs. How could it? Our beliefs are formed by our faiths, our races and heritages, our upbringings, our educations, our economic statuses, our occupations, and our experiences. We are all different, and each of us brings something unique to the table. So, how do we come together? How can we arrive at consensus?
We need to respectfully listen to one another. Ask people what they mean by what they say. Ask them why they feel as they do. Listen to their stories. Not so that we can change their feelings to match ours, but so that we can understand. And not that we necessarily have to accept their values as our own, but to see what we can learn, to fill in the gaps of our own knowledge.
I believe there are absolute truths, absolute rights and wrongs. But when we hold to our views rigidly and make decisions based on absolutes, our choices may have unanticipated consequences. That’s why we need to consider what people different from ourselves have to say. We need to see the whole picture.
We are going to disagree with each other. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to rebuild our country. If we understand each other, we can find ways to support each other. It’s going to take work and change on the part of every individual (yes, I just said you have to change—but I admit I do, too) to heal the division and inequity in our country, and it won’t be fixed in four years. But we can make progress before we hand the work off to the next generations.
Please, God, bless America. Bless our new president. Guide us as we work toward a more perfect union. Amen.
Some creative inspiration for your soul.
- What a church quilting group did for one of their members.
- Some journal pages.
- Digging art out of dirt.
- I’m sharing this sketch post because I want to remember to watch the videos that Suhita included links to. And also because the sketches are awesome.
- Grief therapy for gamers.
- Saying goodbye to a treasured friend.
- I am so intrigued with this African architect.
- Artists need to go outside and explore the ‘hood.
- If you are a visual artist seeking exposure, maybe you’d be interested in entering one or more of these contests.
- Hope on an old envelope.
- Breathtaking autumn quilt.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty ~John Keats
- See if you can say these tongue-twisters.
- Watercolor lesson.
- Tour the world’s great art museums—on your computer.
- What good is hope?
- A brief virtual tour of Poland, including vampire lore and a dragon.
- Scary tattoos.
- Beautiful watercolor paintings.
- I am jealous that Frances has made major progress sorting her quilting fabrics.
- Kids are so profound.
- I love this artist’s sketches.
- What San Francisco looks like under virtual lockdown.
- Pompei through the eyes of an artist.
You may have heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. This YouTube video, posted in 2012, has been viewed almost seven million times:
Cateura is the site of a huge garbage dump. The 2500 families who live there make a living by scavenging the dump for materials they can sell.
All of their need come from discards. Even their homes are built from garbage.
Favio Chavez, an environmental engineer employed by the dump, observed thousands of children who lived their lives surrounded by garbage. And drugs.
Wanting to provide a ray of hope, Chavez volunteered to teach kids to play musical instruments. He started with a number of donated instruments, which quickly ran out.
Chavez justly gets credit for his vision. He must be an accomplished musician, but I was unable to find any information about his background. For sure, he is an excellent and inspiring teacher, as evidenced by the accomplishments of his students.
And the children! Their dedication to practice shows in the way their performances shine.
A documentary about the orchestra, called Landfill Harmonic, came out in 2016:
In my opinion, the unrecognized angel of the orchestra is Nicola Gomez. A carpenter by trade, “Don Cola” Gomez is who Chavez turned to when he needed more instruments for his students. Could he fashion some violins from materials from the landfill?
Gomez had never seen or heard a violin before. But somehow, he made one out of baking sheets, pallet wood, a fork, and old wires. And then he made some more. Soon, he branched out to other kinds of instruments. Trumpets made from drainage pipes. Drums with x-ray film heads.
Amazingly, despite the humble materials he used to build the instruments, they sound remarkably good. It’s not easy to hand-make instruments that will play in tune with other instruments. Especially without specialized training. The man is an acoustical genius.
60 Minutes produced this segment about the Recycled Orchestra:
I recently visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and some of the Cateura instruments are on display there (click on the small pictures to enlarge and read captions):