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Miss Bessie & New Mexico

July 8, 2011

One of the most exciting parts of our trip to the Navajo reservation, in New Mexico near the Four-Corners region, was getting to meet Miss Bessie. She is a wonderful old woman, who thinks she’s 89, but couldn’t quite remember. We had gone to see her so we could take her to visit friends and people in the community who are home-bound- she visits them to encourage them, pray for them and provide the friendship and companionship that is sorely absent in their lives. I was SO EXCITED to walk through the front door of her small home and see that most of the front room was taken up with a loom. I was able to sit next to her and watch her work for a little bit and learn the basics of weaving. I’ve always been curious about how a loom and weaving work, so it was kind of like walking into the middle of a dream. She pulled out a book showcasing the traditional designs from the local tribes and pointed out all of the ones she wants to make, the ones she likes, the ones her kids want her to make for them…it reminded me of the hours I spend drooling over patterns on ravelry. Luckily Bessie had a few small rugs that she had completed, so we were able to buy one and bring it home.

As much as I love supporting people who are making a living using their hands to make beautiful, creative, and useful things, this was especially wonderful because I got to meet the artisan, watch her work and was doubly excited to support her work because of the way she loved her neighbors so well.

We were also able to see lots of beautiful handmade jewelry- lots of people with natural talent and an eye for design. One of the things that struck me about the artisans we encountered was the simple beauty of their design and their process. The people we met weren’t high-design snobs, they didn’t use local resources to make a political statement or extra profit- they simply created things with care and creativity using the local resources available (I bought a simple necklace made from juniper berries). There is something about that way of life that calls my heart forth- to make things in order to put food on the table, to be a participant in the creative process, making things that are both useful and beautiful, the simplicity and pride of making a rug and then using it.  Yes, please.


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