Months ago which feels more like years following months of dreaded anticipation, Russia invaded Ukraine. February 24, 2022. Images of bombings, families huddled in basement refuges, people running in the streets, burned out and shattered homes have been constant reminders of the human toll that has been taken. I recall rather vividly how shortly after it all stated, we learned the meaning behind the Ukrainian flag….fields of sunflowers against a clear blue sky, Such contrast to what we saw through the past nine months. My watercolor friends and I peppered our Facebook pages with images of sunflowers. I resolved to plant sunflowers in my garden and to paint more of them…, mostly so my heart would remember the strong images of the women of
Ukraine guiding their children to lands far away, courageous and strong, met by women on the safe side of the border offering food and lodging and strollers for the children. Horrendous evil counterbalanced by hearts torn open with kindness and caring. I painted images I felt more than saw just to keep my heart tuned into what was happening.
My sunflowers grew. I drew them and I painted them. One particular painting turned into a prayer. It started out well but somewhere along the line I determined it needed to take a different direction. I decided to cut it up and stitch it and turn it into a quilt-like image. That failed too. So I continued to cut, to tear, to stitch pieces back together and to sit and stare at the remnants to determine how I could make something from the shattered pieces. The metaphor became clear. Ukraine as it had been is gone, broken and shattered. Lives are lost, Families are displaced. Futures are uncertain. My prayer becomes one of hope that they might find the shards of their lives and put them back together.
And so my Ukrainian Prayer Book came to be, just a small 4″ square with only a few pages , the product of hours of thought, doing, undoing and redoing.