Ducks and Flowers

Thursday, February 14, 2008

HEARTS of HOPE and valentine surprise

May our hearts touch your heart in love -- that is what Olga put on one of the hearts fpr the AIDS QUILT she made for our JOURNEY OF THE HEART weekend which is coming in one day at our church after weeks of grant writing and planning!

Any person can sign their first name to one of the hearts that will go on this AIDS quilt made to the size of quilts for the AIDS Quilt project in case it someday goes to that project -- 36 inches by 72 inches or the size of a gravesite. That is not a very cheery thought for Valentine's Day but it causes us to pause and remember the painful hearts of those who have died of HIV AIDS and their families, friends in this time of Hearts.

Olga carefully made this AIDS Quilt over the holidays and it was a labor of love it is evident looking at it. It is stitched with love and hopes. She has made two of AIDS Quilts some years ago that are now in Panels. She told us about it at our World AIDS Day Forum late November and this was news she was involved so personally in this project. It turns out she has a story herself. She will stitch down the hearts in time that we are now signing, scattering and pinning down as we ponder and it creates a somber mood with it's happy colors the last few weekends at church.

Olga wanted to make a quilt that folks could "get involved in" she told me before I had seen it or barely knew about her idea to make it. It was all her idea and then she told me she would have it done after the holidays. She wanted a quilt that lots of people could sign for support. One that folks could sign their first name on soft colored hearts. They could sign if they support persons who have HIVAIDS, if they support AIDS ministries, or if they just want to be supportive to the AIDS crisis. You could also sign the first name of someone you know who has HIVAIDS or if you know someone who has died from AIDS to a heart.

It seems that this Hearts of HOPE AIDS quilt has become a "STORY QUILT" the last few weeks as people come quietly by it laying on the counter at church with someone usually standing with it to help interpret the project and about the weekend coming. Others walk by rather than find out what it is about. Some people quietly tell their stories or tell about someone they know or indicate quietly they will give support.

Many walk by and choose not to get involved or even find out what it is about just like the disease itself. Hard to believe you could not even notice people standing by this cheerful quilt with soft colors, a rainbow, an AIDS Ribbon, the words HEARTS OF HOPE and loose hearts in pastels ready for spring that look like valentine word candies.

It has been interesting to see the various reactions; but the best responses have been the stories shared by persons coming to the quilt on the table to know more. Sometimes the stories seem like they have not been shared many other times. And one surprise story was of a four and one half year old child who died of AIDS. Joshua's family did not know what caused his death until the autopsy was sent to his family after his death. They found out then that AIDS was given to his young body -- likely from a transfusion he had.

And another older woman told me that she knew of two people who had died... Clancy and Mike. We had a great visit about this and her gracious spirit was clear. I had not met this woman before and now I will remember her. It has been a great way of connecting with people. She signed her name Cleota and their first names too. Another Sudanese girl wanted to sign her name after I explained it; she wanted to tell about her mom's aunt who has had HIV AIDS living in Georgia. She signed her name and put "my mom's aunt."

In this midst of all the preparations for this weekend, it seems that Olga's quilt is centering us in HEARTS of HOPE as we are reminded to remember that the stories are still the most important thing this weekend. The Mutti's story and the others that will emerge. It is helping us to remember that affirming those who come for healing or educations this weekend. It is also
reminding us that our spirits need healing too! All of our hearts need healing and hope.

Because of this Heartfilled AIDS quilt this February, I have started to gain a new perspective on Valentine's Day now and hearts. I have received many uppers and hearts this new year through this quilt and the personal stories, phone calls, gatherings, conversations, interactions, restful thoughts and emails which are all hearts of hope. Yet Today another big surprise came to me.

I was surprised with a rhyming Valentine from my dear husband this morning when i thought he had forgotten Valentine Day coming last night. My card and created rhyme were telling of the upcoming SURPRISE trip we are taking to San diego now this next week to see our daughter and her husband there.

Our son in law is about to leave now in two weeks for training to go to IRAQ again. This news was NOT a valentine to any of us by the way. In fact it has broken all of our hearts including his I am sure. So our hearts have been heavy since mid December rather than hearts of hope. Maybe that is why the last few weeks and today were more deeply felt than usual! The hearts of hope have come after sadness and unsolicited change in our lives.

So this HEARTS of HOPE Quilt by Olga seems to be a calm oasis in my life along with calls from friends this week after getting well again and emails of love have all brightened my life. And I am feeling like getting out again after being sick which is a heart of hope for sure; and the surprise trip NEXT WEEK to CA is the best valentine of all this year from my dear husband.

And I am still in SHOCK!! I was about to have a heart attack as I opened it this morning and realized the surprise it held inside.... i could hardly focus my eyes. And I did not even realize he had written a rhyme until later in the day rereading it.

Thanks everyone for all the great Valentines week through: stories, hearts, AIDS quilts of hope, the NE Lincoln PFLAG quilt of stars for those who have died of AIDS in NE (adding stars maybe this weekend), blogs, emails, cards, help on projects, copying, making packets, being interviewed for the article in the paper, going to TV stations, tying AIDS ribbons and hugs, letters to the editor that friends have written for the human race and giving support to those who want a boost including me. It was one of those heartfelt weeks with actions, news popping and with emotions very close to the surface.

My week was filled with calls from friends to abolish the death penalty, emails to do actions to counter the FEARS with hope to abolish violence and revenge to replace it with fair and firm justice in other ways-- but leaders who don't see it at all and who encourage all the insane news reporting that does not reflect the hearts of people... even as the tide is turning.

Time to get last minute things done for the AIDS Ed weekend, start thinking of sunny CA and wrapping my mind this NEW TRIP COMING, enjoying downloading pics of Colorado at the holidays, updating my blog I have neglected it and friends some friends...... and time to download pics from Chelsea Clinton's visit last week to our town... amazing... no pics of the caucus sorry.

Time to sort the STUFF now tomorrow: candles, matches, two AIDS quilts, DVD's, info for this weekend and eager supplies ready for cloth bags....still unwinding from my first ever caucus last Saturday, interactions, being chosen to attend the County Convention June 5 now and the thrill of questionning and seeing folks come out to endorse candidates, new directions and hearts of hope for our nation.

As we look forward to the AIDS Awareness weekend, the hearts of hope quilt will buoy our spirits as the stories are told and as Fritz and Etta mae mutti come to give us spiritual leadership. And now the trip to CA next week is going to also hold me up to go through this new AIDS territory this weekend and the FEARS, new info to get to the faith responses and actions, signing names on quilts..... and remembering and responding with SUPPORT by using our first names to sign the soft hearts of cloth in pastel bunny colors.

And just now my mind jumps to thinking about the whale watching adventure coming and the new trip OUT OF THE BLUE today.... and seeing our kids in CA, friends, palm trees, whales, birds of paradise, warm blue skys of CA and the ocean during winter in NE and snow/ice.

Hearts of hope to everyone!

It was a most surprising week all the way around and one of those get well weeks...... yet unsettled..... yet upbeat, curious, energizing and fun weeks with lots of passion being unleashed on projects and a most surprising Valentine's day for sure... still in shock .... with yet one more story now for Valentine's DaY and a few more to add to our life stories of joy and hope!

I am excited about this weekend coming .... it is time to calm myself for rest and just take it in with new friends and old friends, my family close to my heart....... and whales watching over me.