There is a Navajo prayer that offers this phrase, “A beautiful one came into my hands”.
I have been blessed to share the life of a beautiful one, my sister, Debra. Her life brought beauty to everyone she encountered. She instilled beauty into everything she did.
When her hands touched the piano keys, Chopin was more beautiful and Scott Joplin more joyous.
With her hands, she spoke beautiful words to her students who were deaf and hard of hearing.
She saw every child, every life as beautiful. When she was in the last stages of living with the challenges of cancer the father of one of her students contacted me. He was a physician and offered to do whatever he could to help. His son he said was missing Debra, was already grieving. Then he told me choking back tears that “your sister is the only person who has ever looked at my son and just saw a little boy, not the deformities he was born with”. Yes, that was who she saw, a beautiful boy.
Once as I was driving past one of the schools where she was an itinerant for the deaf I saw her walking toward the main doors. As she approached a group of children ran out and surrounded her, hugging her and laughing nearly knocking her off her feet. Every time I think of that moment I am grateful for that beautiful image. Every time I think of it informs my heart on what true, life-affirming love is.
“Each piece of art that I make is a sanctuary,” she wrote. Through her beautiful hands, she created mixed-media sculptures and award-winning jewelry. All her work emerged from natural objects: shells, sea rocks, coral, river rocks, and pieces of water-weathered drift word or the stones and rocks and desert driftwood she found here in the high desert. She infused each piece she made with “Nepenthe”, a Greek word meaning no sorrow. That spirit, that beauty abides in every piece of her work and continues to offer “no sorrow” only beauty, only a calm happiness sheltered in their sanctuary.
At the Petroglyph National Park Debra found a space that spoke to her soul. She had many spiritual experiences there. A year ago, I put together a collection of her inspiring experiences at the park. Church of My Heart was how she referred to this area, especially around Boca Negra. There at the spot she called Surrender Rocks is a bench dedicated to her memory and love of this sacred space. It was there she prayed, there she found deep peace and there she connected with the woman of a hundred generations.
When a beautiful one leaves us, the space is never hollow or empty. It is filled with the work of her hands: her music, her signed words, her written words, her works of art, and always with Nepenthe.
A beautiful one came into my hands
The child of the inner form of white shell.
As a beautiful one came into my hands
Now I am surrounded by the sky’s surroundings,
To be ever increasing, never decreasing.
When a beautiful one came into my hands
My surroundings are all blessed.
When a beautiful one came into my hands.
(From the Navajo Blessingway)
To read some of Debra’s words you can find Church of My Heart through this website, on Amazon, Kindle and bookstores