Easy Marks

I’m an easy mark. Especially when it comes to making marks on foam meat trays with dull pencils or ball point pens. Those marks became stamps. Those stamps became colorful images of affection and appreciation as we all purposefully placed our marks on each others’ accordion fold pocket books. Such was our final art activity for the season with the women at the Lighthouse.

Over the last many months these women have made marks on our lives as well as each others. So we thought it fitting that our last Friday together before our summer hiatus be one of creating marks to share collectively with each other.

The art activity was wonderfully low tech – squares of foam cut from grocery store meat trays, pencils and pens, various colored stamp pads, duct tape for easy handles, and pre-cut, partially folded, gessoed red rosin paper.

Even the heavy roll of red rosin paper had been a gift to us several years ago from a former Lighthouse resident who’d picked it up for a dollar at a garage sale because she just knew we could do something with it. I nearly declined the gift because I couldn’t imagine what. Silly me.

My art partner Lee created the lighthouse that many wanted as the front cover of their folded book. My easy mark was a simple stamp of a small leaf representing the growth I see in so many of the women. Winged hearts, plain hearts, hearts with arrows, angels, castles and crowns, trees, flowers, clouds, and crosses all began to appear on the panels of everyone’s books. Other easy marks included words like peace, love and forever emerged – some of them printed backward when the artists forgot to draw the word in reverse.

It was gratifying to hear one woman who frequently struggles to express herself artistically express how much fun she was having. Equally gratifying was the attention paid to make sure everyone’s stamp was included in every sixteen-panel book. Every stamped imaged was accompanied by her signature. Yet, there was the lament of some wished for stamps from the women who were not in the art workshop because their were spending time with their children. This is a group of women who’ve become wonderfully cohesive and love one another.

Kim seemed particularly happy with her stamp – a simple pink heart. Her pleasure was accompanied by good news. She has been granted custody of her sixth month old daughter who was born with a meth addiction. Her own withdrawal from meth has been a daunting experience over the last many months. She was often unable to focus well enought to work on the art activity for the day; mostly she told me her troubles and I tried to speak hope and encouragement into her life.  But she seemed different last Friday. She seemed more relaxed and bright. More content and hopeful. As she pressed her inked stamp into my folded book I commented on my awareness of her changed countenance – this not so easy mark in her life.

At the end of the morning as we were saying our farewells for the next six weeks, Veronica, who had added paraphrased Scripture to each of the stamped images in her book, took us aside to say that she was leaving the program in several weeks. She, the staff, and her family were all in agreement about this being a good decision. The absolute hardest part of working with the women at the Lighthouse is having them leave the program and finding out about it after the fact. While I’m sad to see Veronica leave, I am deeply grateful that we had the opportunity to say goodbye. And that we each carry away in our hearts, as well as our books, the “easy” marks we’ve made on one another’s lives. Like I said, I’m an easy mark.

If you were to create a stamp symbolic of you or your spot in life at the moment, what would it look like. If you were to gather fifteen other people to create stamps for your book, who would they be? What words or Scripture might you add? Are there missing people you wished you’d included?

Looking forward to your easy remarks…

 PS – The Lighthouse is a fifteen-month, faith-based, residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse.



3 comments to Easy Marks

  • Judy Siudara

    I love “easy ” marks! this is workable for 4-5 graders too! Thanks,Lynne..
    My mark at this time would be a BIG question mark. Where is my life going? With whom will I be spending time? the verse that comes to mind is ” Who can know the Mind of God?”.
    Have a great 6-wk. break. any Princeton-type projects in there? Judy Siudara

  • Linda Strickland

    What a wonderful activity and keepsake 🙂 I think my mark would be a light, perhaps from a star. “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” John 8:12. I am sure closing a relationship with a woman who has overcome and found new ways to live in part with your guidance is very difficult–even though it is the goal from the beginning. We do not know the way He will lead us but He does.

  • Deanna Bowling

    I am a turtle. I now understand why my mom loved turtles so much.

    Handy armor in case of need, ability to pull in when feeling endangered, ability to hybernate in the rough times.

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