Thursday, March 18, 2010

Her Hands

A few years ago I traveled to the Ukraine as a short term missionary. One of the highlights was meeting this amazing woman. Kristina was in her late eighties at the time, and she ran the family farm by herself. Her grown children worked in the city of Kiev. When I look at the picture, I'm always struck by her hands - how large and strong they were.

We were unable to speak each other's language. But we communicated with smiles and hand gestures. She wanted me to take home to the U.S. some beans and garlic that she had grown. When I tried to explain that customs would not allow me to bring it in, she waved a hand at me as if to say, "nonsense", and gestured for me to hide it in my bra :) It took me awhile to explain without hurting her feelings that I really really couldn't. She just shrugged and smiled. Two years later, her granddaughter Lena visited us bearing a beautiful gift from her grandmother...this rug.

Lena explained to me how her grandmother had made this at age eighteen. It's made of linen. She grew the flax, beat the flax into fiber, spun the fiber into thread, dyed the thread, and wove this lovely work. Even though it is a rug, there's no way I could put it on my floor. I'm honored to have it hang on my studio wall. Kristina, I will always remember you.


NZ Driftwood Doodles said...

Wow, what a story, and what a rug! I too have been so struck by the generosity of people I have met in other countries, often people who have so little. They are treasured experiences.

Val said...

that is definitely a Wow story
how lovely

Alexis said...

This made me smile. It's amazing that she made that rug from scratch! I'm sitting here wondering how long it must have taken her to make it.

em said...

What a wonderful gift!

Jodi said...

Thanks, everyone. It was a wonderful experience. This same woman invited me and my son to her dacha for morning tea. When we got there, a full-out meal was waiting for us--soup, eggs, bread, dumplings, salad, and tea. We were overwhelmed and deeply touched; she had no modern conveniences to prepare this meal. No running water, no refrigeration.

Alexis, I'm not sure how long it would have taken to make it, but you can tell by the workmanship that it was a labor of love.

Linda said...

What an wonderful story. I imagine that you wish you could have talked with her for a long time and found out more of her life, but her face and hands say a lot, don't they? Thank you for sharing this. The rug is also beautiful. I think that she should send such a gift as this shows your visit meant a lot to her.

Joan said...

How Beautiful- both women and the rug.
In your recognition of Kristina (your deep appreciation for her that extended across cultures and language barrier)she recognized you. You reached into her world and heart and "saw" her beauty. She reciprocated with a highly prized and hard won gift of self.

I love looking at a person's hands and what comes out of them. They are little self portraits. It is amazing what love can be
ex-pressed from one pair of busy hands, and how they can carry the heart of a person to another.

Quotidian Life said...

What treasures~your friendship with Kristina and the beautiful rug she made.

JoAnn said...

I love this so much. I love love love love love this.

Leslie said...

I clicked through from the link to this post - LOVED it. Especially the part about hiding the garlic in your bra ;)


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