We spent yesterday working on a red and black quilt. This one has Dan Carter bandanas and lots of silver ferns. Red hearts in the corners. Funny little chickadees, my class – they wanted to make this quilt because of something that happened last year.
It was a normal Thursday morning and we were all busy with sewing when we heard that ominous, deep-throated rumble. Without hesitation or consultation, 16 people threw themselves into the turtle position under my big sturdy sewing tables. We held our collective breath as the rumbling got louder… and then a little digger trundled past the windows.
You would think we’d be relieved but it surprised even me that the overwhelming reaction was anger. Curled up in little balls under my tables, half the class burst into tears. “I’m sick of being afraid, ” one of them yells. It’s horrible, it’s heart-breaking and it’s hard to be the strong adult when I mostly feel the same way they do. Fear has embedded itself deeply within our psyche.
I have a stack of blankets in my room which we cut up for cushions and use for quilt backs. I reach out and drag them under the table, pass them around for the kids to tuck up under. We stay in our table cave for a little bit longer and I just let them talk. My poor little turtles, they’re so weary. And so good at putting on a brave face most of the time. We have a Harry Potter moment and name that which we are afraid of. Damn Earthquake we all shout. Then smiles, even a few giggles. We crawl back out, settle at the machines and carry on with the winter beanies.
Yesterday we commemorated February 22 as a school. We stood quietly as a brave, brave little boy talked about his lost mother. She was alive for at least 12 hours in the rubble of the CTV building before her cell phone battery died and they didn’t hear from her again. We wept together, as a school. And my class, knowing the restorative power of creating, spent the day making him a Canterbury quilt with a cross in the middle for hope, red hearts in the corner and as much love as little 12 year old souls could stitch into those red and black seams.