We are speaking of the relationship of the Via Transformativa and the Via Creativa. Recently I received this letter from Marianne Grosspietsch who works in Nepal with lepers and others suffering ostracization in addition to their physical challenges.
I work in a special field: 27 years ago, I together with friends and family, founded a leprosy centre in Kathmandu.
My focus is to treasure hunt for the hidden talents in our patients and help them to become creative artists like painters, silversmiths, silkweavers, carpenters making children’s wooden toys, organic agriculturalists ..,rather than focus on their disease.
The murals were painted by Shyama, a wonderfully talented yet seriously handicapped leprosy patient.
The vegetable cutters are also our patients. They help prepare the meals for poor people.
We also take care of abandoned children and orphans, whom we support in our own Steiner school, they also go to music and dance classes, which is so beneficial for their bruised souls.
Pari was prematurely born to seriously mentally challenged parents. She delights in singing and playing soft music on the lyre.
Creativity is to my interpretation the great gift of the Creator – how much reason to share this unique gift that each and every one of us has in a different shade.
I am appalled by the injustice that leprosy patients experience: they not only suffer from their sickness but also by the stigma of being untouchables here in Nepal, They can never find out what talents they are blessed with. They have to struggle for survival by begging. Therefore I am at their side to help them live in dignity: which is in beauty.
In order not to give up because of so many stumbling stones by authorities, because of my fear of the next earthquake -I survived the devastating last two unharmed, by the huge work load of rebuilding -we lost our village: school, hostel, homes…, by raising all the funds to keep around 800 people going….
She empowers the patients to direct their creativity in prophetic actions of their own:
I want them to contribute to save our mother Earth by not wasting anything, by being creative in using scrap for useful items and also: not to think: ‘we are poor. We can’t do anything.’ Therefore I requested them to take part in the big Climate march: and they painted the most beautiful banners, took the children, went by foot or in wheelchairs. I was so very moved about their feeling as being normal citizens, demonstrating for the Future of all the world. After the march our school children were taken to our farm and planted 40 bigger fruit trees as a sign: we act!
I feed my soul by listening to Matthew Fox’s teachings before going to sleep. I came across his theology of Creation years back, when I was studying. (I am now 75 years old).
I am deeply thankful for all the encouragement that I am receiving by Matthew’s teaching. It uplifts my soul, makes me think deeper, helps me to see the wonders of life even more intensely than I used to, gives me strength not to give up, when problems become challenging…inspires me to read other wise men and women… being German I love Meister Eckhart and Hildegard von Bingen but also Theresa of Avila ….
Quoted text and photos from a letter to Matthew Fox from Marianne Grosspietsch, founder of Shanti Leprahilfe Dortmund e.V.
Banner image: Shanti Leprahilfe patients participating in the September 20 global climate action. Photo by Marianne Grosspietsch.
Queries for Contemplation
One lesson from the story above is that Creativity is healing for the physically well and the physical disabled. It is soul medicine that all humans need. How does this story from Nepal speak to your heart and soul, your deepening of art, meditation, service, compassion?
For Prophetic Action:
If you care to support this wonderful work in Nepal, please go to this link (in both English and German) and contribute. They exist only on donation: www.shanti-leprahilfe.en
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”