I love mosaics. My favorite ones are created from broken pieces of glass, tile, ceramic – pieces that may seem useless or ugly on their own, but joined together, form something new and beautiful. My love for mosaics began in the city of Barcelona with the whimsical works of Antoni Gaudí. His style continues to influence my own. When creating visual art, I gravitate towards collage, mosaic, and paper weavings. When weaving, I find myself winding pieces of ribbon or cloth, a bird feather, or some other surprising thing through the neat rows and columns because life doesn’t happen in neat rows and columns. In mosaic-making, I keep the larger vision in mind when putting fragments together. An arrangement may not look right up close, but in the larger picture, the placement of each piece makes sense.
I have been told that my writing takes similar form- pieces of brokenness that come together to form a new vision of what is or could be; stories seemingly disconnected that weave themselves into an unexpected bigger picture.
I have traveled to many places in the world and encountered so much brokenness: the visible and invisible wreckage caused by poverty, violence, oppression. In El Salvador I witnessed the devastation of a newly ended civil war; I was in Guatemala when that country’s civil war officially ended. In Colombia I met soldiers proud of their military training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, outside of whose gates I stood vigil for 14 years because of the brutal results of such training. In Iraqi Kurdistan I heard stories of narrow escapes during bombings and saw graphic photographs of the aftermath of a chemical attack. Most recently, in Palestine I have experienced, even through my layers of privilege, a small piece of what military occupation looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes like.
When I walk through these mounds of devastation, I sometimes find myself sinking into despair, looking down as I try to avoid, unsuccessfully, being cut by the shards of broken people, relationships, homes, hopes, dreams.
When I raise my eyes, I get a different picture. I see that the mounds are only a small part of a vast and magnificent topography. Everywhere I have been, I have experienced extraordinary beauty, where the shards and splinters connect and create a path to navigate through rough terrain. In places of great material poverty, I have received generous hospitality, offers of the best a family or person had to give, even if it meant they went without. In places of violence, I have been granted forgiveness for my country’s complicity in horrifying acts of inhumanity and trust in my own goodness and ability to change the world. In places of horrible oppression, I have experienced the steadfast resolve of people who will not give up their dignity, even when so many forces are working to strip it away, piece by piece or all at once. Over and over again I have witnessed broken people unite, bonded by the grouts of love and a desire for peace. The path in these places may be on uneven ground, but walking together slowly, helping the fallen to stand, helping the tired to continue, people move forward. I have had the fortune to be a part of this human mosaic-making. These relationships widen my vision and allow me to see that ultimately Hope prevails; Love wins.
My experiences have broken me open and re-membered me so many times. I, too, am a mosaic, ever in the process of breaking and coming together anew, sometimes with original pieces rearranged, sometimes with new pieces collected along the way. I know now to trust this process. I know that though perhaps unwelcome in the moment, being broken open is a gift; the pain of breaking will ultimately lead to a re-created me, finer than my previous form.
In this blog, I hope to explore my own and our world’s continuous and intersecting cycles of mosaic-making: of breaking and re-forming into a new whole, of creating beauty from bonding the broken pieces within and without.