My friend Lois is a great supporter of the arts. She sends me these wonderful packages full of art supplies to inspire and delight. Recently she sent me an amazing one-of-a-kind gift from Nicaraguan artist Franck de las Mercededs, creator of the Priority Boxes Art Project. Franck is an abstract artist who has been selling his paintings online for many years. He would clean his brushes off on cardboard boxes so that no paint went to waste, and then mail his paintings inside the painted boxes. One day, a postal worker made a comment that would change the direction of Franck’s life: “Did it ever occur to you that your boxes are works of art?”
He thought about that comment for awhile, and decided to try something different: making the boxes the works of art. The art is on the outside, for everyone to enjoy. They contain priority labels for various states of being, such as peace, love, hope, joy and power. What each person does with their box, or how the box impacts their lives, is as varied as snowflakes.
Franck thought at first that he would just do the project for a couple of months to see how it went. Now his project has been going on since 2006, and he has sent over 10,000 boxes all over the globe. He sends the boxes free of charge, because you can’t put a price on ideas like peace. This is his way of making the world a more beautiful place, while at the same time making art more accessible.
My colorful box said that it contained hope.
Hope is something I have been in short supply of lately…
I am going through a season of tremendous loss in my life. All the people I love most have died in the space of few years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now I am faced with having to say goodbye to my dear cat Otis. He has been in my life for 12 years, and is my longest fur relationship. Now his life is drawing to a close. Although I know we all must die, it’s the timing of it that makes me lose hope. Hope thrives where there is love, and as these loves leave my life, hope leaves with them. It’s been too much, too soon, and I am exhausted by it all.
I have lived with my box of hope for a few days now. Hmmm, what could I put into this cool painted box to help me to remember to hope? What is it brings me hope? It seems like it should be a really easy question to answer, but it goes deeper than I realized.
When I think of hope, I think of the future. When hope is lost, depression ensues and it becomes difficult to visualize the future. I think of hope as something that cheers us up and helps us to feel like there is a reason to stick around and see how our lives play out. Hope helps us to see that we are of use in the world, and that our lives have meaning. Hope carries with it cheerful expectations and good wishes, like when you say to someone: “I hope you feel better soon.”
So what makes me feel all that?
The only answer I could come up with was: God.
When hope is lacking, it can feel like a miracle to catch a glimpse of it. God is in the business of miracles, and He works through people like Franck who are open to trying new and unique ways to impact the lives of others with love.
I think that action also plays a big part in the cultivation of hope. When we take action by doing one small positive thing, (even though we may feel hopeless in the moment,) then hope begins to grow within us. Taking action automatically moves us into the future, which supports hopefulness.
I decided to use my hope box as a way to communicate with God on a deeper level. When hopelessness seeps in, I will write down what I am feeling and put it in the box. Or I will just speak it into the box, or cry it into the box…Then I will wait quietly for God to reply. I will listen for a message of hope in the still, small voice of God. God is always with me if I am able to silence myself enough to hear Him. Now that’s what I call “something to hope for!”
Check out Franck's website here: http://fdlmstudio.com/