Say the name of the country and a variety of images flood our brain … images of fear, protest and terrifying disastrous situations of people running for their lives … crying children with addresses/phone numbers written on their hands or piece of paper as they cross the border out of Ukraine on their own … buildings in ruin … poignant farewells at train stations … soldiers fighting in snow and cold without food or sufficient military equipment … exhausted medical / first responder personnel remaining with patients as missiles attack hospitals, ambulances, firetrucks/stations … ordinary people defending their cities at great risk to themselves … hungry people … desperate people of all ages and situations. Ukraine is at war.

But then come images of hope and healing and support from within Ukraine and around the world
… nations place sanctions on the oppressor, Russia
… musicians, actors, dancers play their instruments, sing their songs, dance their dances, act their plays in the middle of Ukraine’s streets and give hope
… artists on social media create art using Ukraine’s national flower (sunflower), the national colours of the country (blue/yellow), adding touches of green in solidarity with courageous Russian dissidents who, risking arrest (and worse), are protesting the war by tying green ribbons in public places as a sign of resistance because they refuse to be silenced about their government’s invasion and war on Ukraine. Not all Russians are supportive of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Around the world, people are
… contributing to fund raisers and responsible charitable organizations who quickly are getting the money to Ukraine and helping those in need
… travelling to Europe to bring medical supplies, fight in the war as soldiers / medical personnel / first responders / cooks / delivery persons / chaplains
… making Air B&B bookings in Ukraine, even though they have no intention of using the bookings
… purchasing from Ukrainian artists and craftspersons on Etsy, knowing they won’t receive the item (unless it’s downloadable).

Ukrainian customs and symbols are becoming known throughout the world as people of all ages
… learn to cook Ukrainian (borscht, varenyky, piroshki, holubtsi, deruni, nalesniki, syrniki)
… make/wear the lovely Ukrainian embroidered shirts (vyshyvankas)
… discover the colourful Petrykivka (Ukrainian folk / ornamental) painting

A number of years ago, our little art group learned how to make Pysanky (Ukrainian Eggs). I enjoyed the process then and, wanting to ‘connect’ with the people of Ukraine and the Russian dissenters now, began to create paper Pysanky-inspired eggs using the Ukrainian national colours of yellow and blue with a touch of the green for the Russian dissenters.

As the piece began to emerge, it not only became a ‘connection’ with those people, but ‘Tangible Prayer’ for me.

I’ve always thought of the arts as a way of expressing a sense of spirituality, but until working on this piece, never quite realized the the depth of that connection. Each dance, each song, each sculpture, each meal, each arrangement of flowers in the garden or in a vase, each structural design, each craft, each work of art can raise spirits, give hope, put a smile on a face, joy in the heart of others, whether or not the artist believes in prayer or understands themselves to be at prayer when they create. Creativity = Spirituality = Soulistry (SOUL artISTRY)

When I create in the garden, kitchen, Studio, wherever, I try to create as a prayerful act but don’t always make that connection between creativity and spirituality.

Working on this piece helped me remember that when I create (as a conscious act of prayer or not), whatever it is I create, I am connected with others (e.g. the recipient, Mother Nature).

In so doing, I am praying … not always conscious … not always intentional .. but clearly tangible. “Tangible Prayer.”


© June Maffin