I believe in redemption. I believe that things used up or broken; things abandoned by others or that seem worthless, can be redeemed through creativity and love to become even more than they were before.
I love having unexpected guests and nothing in the refrigerator but leftover odds and ends. I throw this in with that, sauté, grate, chop and…before you know it, a feast appears! Or that wool sweater I accidentally washed on hot; my soft snuggly sweater is now a soft snuggly throw pillow. Redemption. I see it all around me.
I believe in redemption because it was modeled to me by my mother and grandmothers. Stale bread? No problem; bread pudding. Worn out t-shirts? Great rags. But my fascination for redemption grew beyond simply pinching pennies or even the mandate to “reduce, recycle, re-use”. The idea that something ready to be thrown away could be transformed into not just something useful – but something truly beautiful – captivated and excited my very soul.
And never more so than in my adopted home of Kyiv, Ukraine where “redemption” is translated “vee-ku-plenya”…literally “to buy back”. When I moved here in 1998 life in Ukraine didn’t have many bells and whistles. Simple things like wrapping paper and greeting cards were limited – in number as well as style. So, since Ukrainians are amazingly talented, my new girlfriends and I simply made our own cards. Hours of cutting and drawing, arranging and gluing, adding shiny scraps and bits resulted in beautiful, one-of-a-kind cards that you couldn’t buy in any store! Sure some were a little rough around the edges – but that was what made them so great. Brave little cards, rising like paper Phoenixes from the ashes of what many would have simply thrown away, to become not just cards, but works of art – much like the girls who made them. I think of Ira who married Tolik straight out of prison, now with their own home and two beautiful children. Or Zoya, whose father taught her to pickpocket when she was only 10, who has now finished college after volunteering many hours in a shelter for kids trapped in lives much like the one she escaped. And on and on….I believe in redemption because I have seen it in the lives around me.
The magic of redemption comes when someone looks with new eyes upon that which appears to have lost its value. Instead of nothingness, they see potential and by their very choosing an act of re-creation takes place and transforms that which was lost into something found; something that can then can be formed and molded into a new creation. I believe it when God says that we are His “Masterpiece”, in the Greek His “poema”; literally His “work of art”. I believe it because when I was without value God chose me and with love “bought me back”, making me into more than I ever thought possible.
I believe in redemption because I have been redeemed.