terry tempest williams wrote her book finding beauty in a broken world in an attempt to increase understanding of our world’s staggering suffering. she writes of spending time in rwanda working with a small group of americans, known as barefoot artists, to create a memorial to those who lost their lives in the horrific genocide of 1994. surrounded by refugees, rwandans trying to reestablish families and communities, she employs her myriad gifts to connect at a spiritual level, the level of deepest need.
in describing the people, many of whom have little more than the insufficient clothing they wear, tempest williams brings them to life as dignified yet devastated, compelling yet staggeringly naked in their vulnerability. the people are achingly human, existing in inhumane circumstances. yet life continues, and the will to not only live but to thrive is demonstrated by the desire to participate, to engage, and to create.
the children she spends time with are arid soil begging for moisture–knowledge–to instigate their sprouting. and when terry leaves the community, the children call out to her, when you come back, bring us more pens and notebooks!
not food, not clothing, not candy, not money: pens, and notebooks.
for it is with those tools they can draw and write, they can create something from nothing, they can hold on to it and have both record and proof of their creations. their existences.
I, too, crave pens and notebooks. I, too, desire record and proof.
and I wish the same for everyone on earth.