I happen to be the pastor of Burlingame United Methodist, where the Kids & Art office is now located. I also happen to be a practicing artist and writer who has often worked with kids making art. It also happens that Purvi and I are both friends with a local art gallery owner, who first brought us together. When I met Purvi, heard about the loss of her son and how she founded Kids' & Art to honor her son and find a positive expression for her loss, I knew that she had a special calling and work not undertaken by others, so I did all I could to get her a good space in our building. That happened, and she and I have become colleagues and friends. The congregation has also learned to celebrate the work of Kids & Art by asking representatives to be present in worship or helping with hospital workshops, or donating money, or giving gallery space to art created by Kids & Art workshops.
As an artist, I will do almost anything to be around kids making art, because, in my view, all kids are artists - and more free as artists than most adult artists, including myself. So being around kids making art is an inspiration to me as well as a wonderful, visual expression for the kids. But I have never worked much with ill children, or children facing death, and that's the work I've learned about by coming to know Purvi and the adults who volunteer with Kids & Art. If visual expression is important to healthy children, how much more important must it be to children facing ill health?
One day, Kids' & Art hosted a time for artists and volunteers to get acquainted with a wide variety of art materials - in other words, play! I attended that event and played with different materials, and I found myself relating my play to my own healing - and the healing of others - by slicing a small cotton canvas and stitching it up as if I was trying to bind up a wound. Our creations that day were passed along to children we didn't even know, so I had the pleasure of knowing that my piece would be seen and held by a child or young person - and who knows what that would bring to mind for him or her? There is some healing which needs to be named, put into words, told or written, but there are some kinds of expression and healing which will not be forced into words but still can be expressed through making things.
This is why I am both a writer and an artist - there's a time for words, and a time to shut up and paint or sew or sculpt or shape.
Even though I will soon be finishing my time as pastor at Burlingame United Methodist, I will gain strength by knowing that the work of Kids & Art continues, and Purvi is busy recruiting me to help with one of the workshop at UCSF! I have just donated 100 copes of my latest picture book for kids to Kids & Art, Didn't We Have Fun! I worked with Oakland artist, Hilda Robinson, on this book and told Purvi that she could use the copies anyway she'd like.
God bless all of you who have lost children - and who give so much to children.