I just wanted to let you know that I have a long post up today on my personal blog, Diary of a Smart Chick, about the Mandalas for Marinke project and the personal impact it’s having in terms of my own life. In this post I share the process that I go through here at home when each mandala arrives in my mail and then I share how this reminds me of the pen pals I had half a lifetime ago.
Here are a few excerpts from the article:
Life goes in circles that way. Doors that were opened are never exactly closed, and sometimes a breeze from today pops back into the past and jars them open so that they gape again until you go back and shut them a little more firmly (or ore tenderly as the need may be). After I lost Wink, my online friend, I started an art project in her honor, and through working on that I’ve returned in a way to the me that I was half a lifetime ago in high school.
Since I started the project, my daily mail is filled with beautiful crochet mandalas, handwritten letters, occasional small gifts and lots of color. I sit down each day with the stack of contributions, opening each one and giving it my full attention, reveling in the beauty that comes not just from the handcrafted art itself but from the loving intention of each participant in the project. I hold that love in my hands and let it course through me and try to send it out to wherever Wink’s spirit may be and to the hearts of whoever may currently be in need of such love so as to avoid joining her in her fate.
Junior high was awful for me, like it is for so many children. There are names now to describe what I went through – bullying, slut shaming. There are books to help the teens and parents who struggle with these things and classes for the educators to attempt to remedy the impact of the cruelty of children against children. But those things didn’t exist back then, there wasn’t a name for what was happening, and it was just ugly and hard and required a resilience inside of me that was strengthened by my few close friends, my first boyfriend and those letters that came to me in the mail at the end of some school days and transported me to another land.
I met Wink through the world of the Internet and that’s how I’ve been connected to the many people who have contributed their amazing art to the Mandalas for Marinke project. I’m grateful for the world of social media and the way that it’s made me so in touch with so many people from everywhere who can understand a little bit of my soul. But I have to say I’m also grateful that it wasn’t around half my lifetime ago because what I needed then was the intimate connection of one-on-one letters sent slowly through the mail, each one allowing me to get to know the other person (and myself) a little bit more, a little bit at a time.