Friday, March 23, 2018

Beads of Courage

I met Jean Baruch, founder of Beads of Courage, after I was shot. She's a friend of a friend, because that's the way it is here in our community. Those who make the world a better place move in the same, small, circles.  We're a friendly group, always looking for the intersections, the connections, the ways to maximize our reach.  Our stories arise from our personal experiences; Jean, a nurse, watched kids struggle with serious illnesses.  She wanted to honor them.  She wanted to commemorate their trials.  She wanted them to feel empowered, to feel like conquerors, like warriors, like people who had met the enemy and survived.
This is a research based group, starting with the beads themselves.  The website features a page called Why Beads, which gives an historical and anthropological backdrop.  The work has been peer reviewed and written about and presented at conferences.  It's not just arts and crafts, it's a proven balm for the soul.

And not only for the souls of the sick kids and their families.  It heals those who tend to them.  That's what we were helping with on Sunday, when Amster and Messers 12 and 14 and I spent two hours at a table,
putting beads and cards into plastic sleeves.
Our cards were Chaplain/Pastoral Care Cards.  There is space on the back side for a personal note.  We were tasked with taking one card, inserting it into the plastic sleeve, adding one bead, removing the strip over the adhesive, and folding the lip over, sealing the whole thing tight.

It involved a lot of repetitive motion.  It allowed us to chat about March Madness and doing good and the concept philanthropy in general, since the task itself require no brain power at all. The boys were less efficient than Amster and I, but they were there and they were participating and she was satisfied.  

At the end, we had 8 bags of 100 sleeves each, with a few left over.  
I tried not to think about 800 chaplains comforting 800 children.  I tried to focus on the smiling faces of the boys beside me.  I thought about the distraction of the bead, about the pain it was designed to assuage, about the toll disease takes on the patient, the family, the caregivers, the professionals, the world....... and I caught myself before I fell completely down that rabbit hole.

We did good.  Others will be grateful.  That's enough.

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