It’s December! The hustle of the holidays makes this a whirlwind month. I think of how many holiday gifts I have wrapped in my lifetime and how much time I have spent finding just the right presents, while often succumbing to the pressure of just grabbing something to fill the need. In recent years, I’ve enjoyed the process less and less, seeking simplicity in a world crowded with stuff, seeking a way to bring cheer without an ounce of expectation, and seeking ways to find perfect gifts that feel right instead of just checking a holiday box. After my last three weeks in Africa, I have determined that an ounce of holiday cheer can be found in a single sheet of paper.
Where did this origami mission begin?
You may have enjoyed pictures and stories from the travels of Jason Everett. He has shared a story of when a young woman in line at a Bethlehem, Westbank, checkpoint alleviated boredom and tension by transforming a few squares of paper into origami surprises. While it only took a few minutes, the imprint of the way the small gesture elevated the mood of that moment left its mark on him- leading to his partnership with Paper for Water who generously sent him to Africa armed with large stacks of paper in the hope of sharing small treasures along his way – which he did.
I watched his work in action throughout Uganda and Rwanda, enjoying the process, but never mastering a technique of my own. However, as his leg of our journey finished, I became the beneficiary of his unused stack of paper. I turned to the master teacher named Google – and searched for “preschool origami projects” with my instructional competency level. I watched 8 year old experts as I painstakingly practiced the simplest technique found in the form of a basic heart.
With paper at the ready, my backpack is currently armed with tools to surprise children with an unexpected paperfolding lesson. Each time we engage in the process, I am surprised at the collective sense of accomplishment experienced when our basic square becomes a colorful heart.
This small gesture makes me think maybe I don’t need BIG and beautifully wrapped gifts right now. Maybe this is a time for simple gestures of kindness in places where no one is looking for it. While it’s easy to let encroaching excess fill the air, I wonder if there is joy to be found at home in these seven simple folds.
Is anyone else is willing to test the idea that a few minutes of sharing origami with a stranger can bring a snippet of unexpected joy? All you have to do, is make your own paper hearts to share with others. Or, teach someone else to make their own so they can share with others. I promise, if I can perfect this technique, you can do the same within minutes of watching my short training video.
If you’d like, I will send you paper in the mail in the hope that you will find someone to surprise with a heart-making exchange. Or, here’s a link to buy a pack of your own.
Share a pic!!! I would love to see your work in action. #heartstravel #hopetravels