Flower Power- Alexandra Chakos
The ability of flowers to enhance our lives and touch our hearts has been acknowledged and celebrated since the earliest of times. Indeed, God has filled our world with such a myriad of flower colors, shapes, sizes, and aromas as to dazzle our minds. Flowers proclaim joy at a wedding, whisper condolence at a funeral, express love on Mother’s Day, bring cheer to a hospital room, and add beauty wherever they exist. So strong is the influence of flowers, that even artificial ones can have a transformative effect on a person’s life.
My thoughts go back many years to the days of my Peace Corps service in Brazil, where I taught sewing and crafts to impoverished women. In one class, I taught the women how to make artificial flowers. This struck a chord with one of the most forlorn in the group. The delicate paper flower and her ability to create it, suddenly lifted her heart and mind above the devastating years of poverty that had beaten her down. She made quite a few flowers that day and took them into the city, where she sold them in the street. With her newly-earned money, she bought more flower making supplies. Her imagination took wing. She began to create bigger, more elaborate flowers which also sold quickly. Those artificial flowers changed the definition of her life. She was no longer a downtrodden beggar. She was a flower creator — a woman with a marketable skill.
While in my Guatemalan mission, I recently observed another floral impact. At Mayan Artisan Studio, the ecclesiastical sewing workshop I established to employ women and support the Guatemalan Church mission, we have a lot of fabric scraps. I showed the seamstresses how to create flowers out of the scraps. These, I will attach to headbands, wreaths, and other accessories and sell them in the U.S. to raise funds for the mission.
As the women stitched flowers one day, I glanced up and was startled by a wide-eyed face, peering in through the open workshop window. It was Isabelle, the tweleve-year-old daughter of our groundskeeper. I invited Isabelle in, gave her a needle and thread, some fabric scraps, and an opportunity to create. She carefully fashioned the fabric into a large red and yellow flower. The next morning, I saw Isabelle marching off to school, proudly sporting her flower on her headband. It has become her daily adornment. And she has become a daily visitor in our workshop, stitching flowers out of every fabric scrap she can gather. Isabelle is one of six children, living with their parents in a small wooden shack. While they are a loving and supportive family, their poverty leaves little space for creativity and beauty. Isabelle has brought this gift to her family.
God, the Creator of All, instilled a bit of His essence in each one of us. Creativity is an important part of this essence. I believe that creating flowers is one way that we can grow and bloom in our God-like nature.