by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Marketing Manager
“Light from Within” by Janet Blanchard
Sometimes the most dangerous battlefields are the ones in our heads. Even those of us with the sunniest dispositions get sad occasionally, weighed down by negative thoughts and vicious self-doubt. Our darkness struggles against our light and if we’re lucky, the light wins. If we work hard to squash the darkness, the light from within will continue to shine, refusing to be extinguished. It will peek through all our layers, starting from the absolute core, and illuminate our soul all the way to the outer edge of our skin. It’s no easy feat to keep that light shining, day in and day out. Some of us struggle more than others.
Like Jinna. Jinna had battled depression throughout her seventyish years. So much so that she and her friend Mimi made a pact: they would check in with each other every day and if one hadn’t heard from the other, a visit would be made to ensure everything was okay. One morning, Mimi didn’t hear from her friend so she went to Jinna’s house around lunchtime that day. That’s when Mimi learned that Jinna had lost the battle to depression. She had extinguished her light.
You may be wondering what this has to do with hospice. I’ll tell you. Jinna was a knitter and she had yarn. Lots of it. Nineteen trash bags full of yarn, in fact, stashed around her house. Expensive, indulgent yarn in gorgeous colors from exotic places like Peru, Italy, and Norway. Yarn made from all kinds of materials like bamboo, silk, cashmere, and wool. Yarn that would make unbelievable prayer shawls for hospice patients. At our hospice houses. You see the connection.
Kathleen Tarr, Prayer Shawl Ministry Coordinator from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte was called and asked if her group would like the yarn. Kathleen, a weaver herself, immediately accepted and gathered the enormous bounty. After sorting it by color, she called in her knitters to claim their prizes. Each took enough yarn to make four to six prayer shawls, somewhere between 2,500 to 10,000 yards of yarn. They then sold the leftover yarn online, raising a modest amount of money. But they didn’t know what they would do with the proceeds.
Turns out we had the perfect solution.
When Kathleen met with Jane Mitchell, our chaplain at Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster, their talk turned to the small chapel located there. Kathleen asked Jane how our plans were progressing, knowing our desire to make the multi-faith space calm and inviting. Jane mentioned that we were still looking for a piece of artwork, a final touch to bring all of those peaceful elements together.
And that’s when all of the pieces fell in place. Kathleen allotted the money raised from the sale of Jinna’s extra yarn to pay a fantastic artist, Janet Blanchard, to create a piece of artwork for the chapel. Janet works in stained glass and her creations are simply beautiful. The only stipulation was that the stained glass piece would be “in memory of Jinna”. Of course we agreed immediately. We couldn’t think of a more poignant and meaningful way to recognize the gift that Jinna unknowingly gave us.
We had a dedication ceremony in the chapel this week for the new stained glass panel. I spent several minutes just staring at the piece. It is indeed a calming scene, with serene blocks of color swirling and dipping around each other. But the aspect that stands out the most to me is the sense of security I feel when looking at it. Maybe because, to me, the swirls of color look like arms bending to cradle a child. Loving. Comforting. Soothing. And the entire piece is lit from within, creating variations within the deep tones of ambers, purples, reds, and blues. It’s a perfect match for our chapel, making the space everything we wanted it to be.
It makes me happy to think of this beautiful piece of art living at Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster. Lit from within, it repels the darkness, something Jinna was ultimately unable to do. Her internal light has been extinguished, but the glow within this stained glass panel can remain on, keeping Jinna’s memory alive and proving that her struggle was not in vain. Day in and day out, her soul will peek through the layers of this unique and stunning work of art.
May you rest in peace, Jinna.