Life is so arbitrary and exact, so painful and joyous, so loving and fleeting. As I LookAroundMe this is what I see and share through my words...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I stared at the newspaper photo. China had suffered a major devastating earthquake. Hundreds of thousands were still trapped. Many of them were children buried in their schools by the quake.
I looked at the picture of the young girl. The article said that her school building collapsed and her teacher was killed. A chunk of the debris crushed her leg and her classmates dragged her to safety. In the hospital, her leg was amputated but she survived.
The photo of her in her hospital bed showed the fifth grader coloring with Crayola crayons. I looked closely at the picture. She was concentrating on her coloring and somehow looked peaceful in spite of what she had physically and emotionally endured and the additional tragedy that her parents were still missing after the quake.
Fifth grade. A time of life when classmates are often their meanest and show their worst cruelty. Yet this girl’s classmates were heroic in the midst of such great catastrophe. They thought of one another. They saved her.
And there she was in the hospital drawing a picture with crayons, the universal symbol of childhood. Even for this fifth grader who had suffered so much, the act of holding color in her hand and creating seemed to bring her a moment of true joy.
Crayons are ageless. From primary grades through middle school they are among our most precious possessions. As an adult, I admit to stopping in the grocery store aisle, opening a box of crayons and admiring the colors. The memories of middle school days come back to me. I can feel my desk and see my school supplies neatly arranged, treasures all of them. Always among my most valued objects were my crayons.
At a time of life when children are often at their worst toward one another, a box of crayons offers a rainbow of hope and sharing that is universal. This twelve year old Chinese quake victim was smiling in the photo, her crayon in her hand. In how many scenarios worldwide have similar scenes existed? Timeless and universal, crayons are an ambassador of childhood.

Published Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper June 2008