Found Poetry with Not I But We
In May 2023, I had the great privilege of traveling to Cape Town, South Africa! My first trip to the Continent! It is beautiful beyond my expectations!
But I want to tell you about the highlight of the trip.
Twice I got to sit with the women that make the “Not I But We” products. Here is what I wrote after the first experience:
We gathered at the table with 5 women living in the safe house. These women are fighting their way back to life. Fighting the most fierce of battles and I am stunned by the raw beauty of it.
We gathered with cheap watercolor sets, torn magazine pages, pens, scissors, and glue. We were about to engage in a therapeutic Art Project called, Found Poetry.
I explained that we are all carrying on the inside things that needed to be processed and things that need to be said. And I told them that sometimes when I am wrestling with an issue I cannot resolve, I ask Holy Spirit to come and work it out in the exercise, with glue and found words.
They went right to it. No hesitation and few questions. That alone stunned me. They went right to it cutting, ripping, silently working to create. Once everyone was finished, we went around the table sharing the art, the words, and what they were communicating through it.
Here are the notes I scribbled down as they shared:
L. “What needs to be said is that …you are the alchemist of your story. And that now I have god. I have new sight.” One line read, “there is Mystery in the tails of her skirt” The power of women. Free. and strong. Not captured.
K. her page started with the biggest piece..gratitude. Her gorgeous ebony skin lit up with the joy of where she finds herself now, remembering the pain and devastation that was her life…she calls herself transformed…longing and looking forward to being back with her son.
P. honesty, not in a good space. Open about being closed. The struggle poured from the art of her page and her words. So damn much glory in her. Frustrated, angry, and hopeful. And gracious. All of it. Breathtaking. I want to look her in the eyes and tell her she is perfect.
K. “that touches my heart," she says to the others, when they speak, I don’t know if she is serious or sarcastic, I think they don’t know either, and maybe she doesn’t either. But she’s also perfect. She has cut out pictures of beauty and declares this is what her life will look like, she says, don’t panic. Take responsibility and everything will be alright in the end. She uses a bird to symbolize rest. This makes me think, She reminds me of my precious Christella in Gonaives. Her wit, laughter, and raw, real goodness, trying to cover that with a rough shell.
L. This woman makes me cry. She expresses herself with such clarity. She has made a 3-dimensional flower out of a ripped magazine page and glued it to the top corner of her page. So there. She writes about what she yearns for. Describing children scrambling from the branches of trees. Playing in the sunshine, the gentle kiss of a loving partner, a holding. And then she writes…” we managed” and that was not even the best part of it. That phrase, “we managed” caught up in my soul. Like a dagger of light. Could there be a better phrase to celebrate that family time of life… that short, never-ending tyranny of diapers and bottles and homework and untied shoes and messy kitchens? This is the ordinary life she longs for. She dreams of building this in her future, healed and whole.
So, dear beloved friends. Please know that the buying a simple, lovely headband you are receiving so MUCH MORE than a headband!
You are an integral part of women in Cape Town, South Africa creating a 2nd story of their lives.
The money they are earning from their making goes into their savings account to help start new when they are ready to step into their own homes.
When they learned that I was the 2nd Story Goods lady, they loved me so big! Since we are a significant source of the orders. They are extremely grateful.All the love,