Going Through, Not Passing Over

I've been thinking a lot about holidays this year, particularly the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Passover is a time of spiritual renewal, of looking back in order to see ahead. A broad theme of Passover is freedom, something so vast, that I've scarcely tried to contemplate it; being someone who prefers to find the macro in the close-by mundane.

I'm also someone who seeks to understand what spiritual traditions have in common rather than how they differ.

The Friday before the holiday weekend, I met a child in the hospital where I work whose artwork contained just these confluences of large and small, distant and nearby, to which I would add, past and present. This young six year old girl had lost her father to incarceration and her mother to death by addiction.

When I first heard about her, I wasn't sure what to expect. Certainly not the vibrant being who walked into the playroom eager to engage in the activity I had chosen: creating a paper Easter basket.

I like this activity because by creating a series of folds and cuts in a square piece of paper and manipulating them, you can create a real container.

Flora sat down and pulled one of the folded pieces over to her place and began to copy the words, "Happy Easter," onto one of the squares. With great detail and many felt tip markers, she painstakingly created designs and drawings on each surface of what would become the inside and the outside of the basket.

I find it intriguing that at this stage, while the child is painting or drawing, the inside and outside are not yet determined. Enclosure can go either way, depending what she chooses to do. A metaphorical exercise about the public and private selves.

At any rate, after Flora had filled both sides of the paper, I stapled her basket together-but she wasn't done quite yet. she took squares of soft, pastel patterned fleece and glued one to each surface of what had turned into the inside of the box.

She proudly showed me her basket, asking, "but where are the eggs?" I went on my own egg hunt and found several colored plastic eggs. I handed them to her and she tucked them into the bottom of her basket.

It seemed to me that this small child exquisitely exemplifies the theme of Passover. She lost her original home and was forced to leave for a new one (she is lovingly cared for by a relative); she had created her own safe transitional home in the basket.