For many years I have volunteered at a foster and adoption agency in their group therapy sessions. Generally, I was put to help with art therapy because of my creative abilities. Through the years we have made bird houses, puppets, rain makers, T-shirts, duct tape wallets, duct tape pens, along with numerous other ones. Each one of the art projects had a message or a therapeutic application to it. For example, when we built birdhouses we talked about what makes a happy house; when we made puppets, we shared how we viewed ourselves. However, one project stood out to me, and I will never forget the message that accompanied it. The project dealt with flower pots.
The children were told to paint flower pots so that a flower could be planted in it. “Plants need nurturing to help them grow, just like people,” explained the leader and that was the therapeutic application….or so everyone thought.
Over an hour went into painting these flower pots, as they had to look perfect.
Time, effort, and love went into these flower pots.
The leader told them she was going to spray them with a special spray so that the paint stayed on, and that they needed to bring the pots over to the table.
Filled with pride, the children happily brought their pots over.
But the leader did not spray the pots.
She went to her bag, took out a hammer, lifted it in the air, and slammed it down on to the precious flower pots. All of them. They shattered. Everywhere. Broken pieces flew in the air. The children quickly became irate and distraught: all that time, effort, and love put into the flower pots was shattered and ruined.
You see all of the children in the group have had shattered lives. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse are no strangers to these children. Unthinkable events have happened to them that should NEVER happen to anyone, let alone an innocent child. These children were put in the crossfires of broken people who made terrible decisions. Whose decisions hurt innocent people and often left them shattered.
Can shattered broken people be put back together?
The next group though, the leader brought out the shattered pieces of the flower pots and handed them to each child.
Then she brought out glue. Fancy glue. Sparkly glue (because sparkles make everything better)
She told them to start glueing the pieces together. To repair what was shattered. To put the broken pieces together again.
Even more time, effort and love went into repairing the flower pots. Soon the broken pieces became a new flower pot. Pride filled the children again, as they were able to repair what was broken and make it beautiful again.
The flower pot will forever have the marks of being shattered, so will the victims of abuse.
But the flower pot is still a flower pot, these children are still children and life goes on.
The flower pot never asked to be broken, but it happened.
No victim is at fault in abuse, but it happened.
The pots were shattered, but they were put back together again.
The children’s lives were shattered, but they can, and will be put back together again.
The flower pots were still beautiful, even though they were once shattered.
Broken, shattered people can be put back together, and they are still beautiful
That was the message. That is the message that sticks with me.
Sidenote: Art therapy, music therapy, and play therapy are very effective when dealing with youth. Many breakthroughs happen during it that would not have happened otherwise.