How should we commemorate the anniversary of Jan. 6?
When Earth is seen not as owned property but as a gift

We can see through this glass not darkly but spectacularly

Sometimes a worthy cause finds you -- and won't let you go.

Poems-in-glassIn some ways, that's what happened to architect and glass artist Hasna Sal when she met a victim of human trafficking. Hasna knew she couldn't be silent about this evil practice. So she used her words and her lovely art to tell both Kansas City and the world what was happening to women and to honor their struggle to emerge from this slavery as whole people.

One result is her new book, Poems in Glass, full of poetry and prose and photos of her art.

It's a lovely, inspiring little volume that will touch your heart if you give it a chance.

I wrote a bit about Hasna and her artwork just a year ago here. You can see there not only her "Nativity Triptych," a stunning and creative look at the Holy Family (crafted by a woman who grew up in a Muslim home in India), but also a photo of one of the panels in a multi-panel work she did in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City and the Lykins Neighborhood Association.

That installation is described as the first exterior memorial in the nation for victims of human trafficking. To see a short video about it, click here. A much longer video in which the artist explains the work can be viewed here.

But the new book shows off this artist's skills as both a weaver of glass and color but also a weaver of words in prose and poetry forms. Her primary medium is, of course, the art. But the words give depth of meaning to what viewers see in what she does to shape glass into messages about the spiritual nature of humanity.

As she said of the book in a recent KKFI radio interview:

“This work is a compilation of two years of work that emerged from my experiences with the world of human trafficking and my interactions with victims of trafficking. It’s a journey I fell into about a year and a half ago when I met the first survivor. . .at Lykins Square Park. I learned so much from them. I was inspired to create a memorial for them.”

So she worked a year and a half pro bono to create the outdoor memorial. Indeed, in the book she writes that "glass is a metaphor for survivor."

And she writes that "glass creates a place of healing. When sunlight pours through the glass and bathes the viewer in colorful light, it becomes a spiritual cleansing. One attains nirvana."

“This book," she said, "is a result of all these feelings that I could not resolve. The result of my work was really the sculptures. The writing was an afterthought.”

Which just proves that sometimes afterthoughts can be both deep and moving.

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A SHIFTING CHURCH-STATE BOUNDARY?

The long history of the U.S. Supreme Court making rulings about religious freedom will add another chapter in December in a case from Maine, Carson v. Makin. This article from The Conversation provides some helpful background to grasp the evolving way the court has considered such cases. As the article notes, "Carson is unlikely to end disagreements over the limits of using taxpayer funds to assist students who attend religious schools. However, it will likely provide an indication of the Supreme Court’s position on the future of the child benefit test, as it seems to be softening on its attitude of maintaining a wall of separation between church and state when it comes to education and aid to students who attend religious schools."

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Cover-lle-hi-res TWJP-coverP.S.: If you're interested in giving any of my books as holiday gifts, they're all listed on my Amazon author's page here. I have a few autographed copies available, too. If you e-mail me at wtammeus@gmail.com I'll tell you how we can arrange to get you one (or more) of those.

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ANOTHER P.S.: If you missed my most recent Flatland column -- about a KC pastor who refuses to be a bystander in the face of need -- you'll find it here.

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