Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Thousand Origami Cranes

I have in my possession 366 squares of coloured paper (A friend reminded me that it's a leap year). Each square is exactly the same size – 15 cms by 15 cms – and they all fit into a plastic holder. Yes, it’s a calendar. By the end of the year, assuming I will not miss a few weeks and toss the paper into the recycling bin, I will have 365 paper sculptures!

Three of my squares have embraced their destiny with an assortment of folds and creases. The motor sail, which will never take to the high seas, is on the desk just beside me. The nightingale, which will never sing a tune, is next to it. Today’s creation, a ladybug (that’s a lady bird to residents in the UK) is downstairs. She is unlikely to fly away home.

Three days in July are ear marked for frogs according to the index. For Christmas Day next year I have a Santa finger puppet to look forward to!

We are talking origami – the traditional Japanese art of paper folding.

I seem to remember that one Chinese New Year celebration many years ago fell on the day our Church house-group met. Ever looking for ways to build relationships, in among the Chinese takeaway, I issued everyone with a square of coloured paper and led them through the mechanics of making an origami crane. (According to my calendar index the crane is scheduled for a day in August.) I had been practising for days and it was no problem to me to fold, crease and twist the paper as instructed but it proved a little more difficult to those trying to keep up with me. I think there was only one person with the determination to produce her own crane. The other cranes remained in various states of incompleteness.

According to one article on the web “The crane is auspicious in Japanese culture. Japan has launched a satellite named tsuru . Legend says that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their heart's desire come true.”

The article goes on to tell the legend of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki. While she was just an infant she was exposed to radiation during the bombing of Hiroshima and became very sick. By the time she was twelve in 1955, she was dying of leukemia. She heard about the legend and decided to fold one thousand origami cranes so that she could live. However, she realised that the other children in her ward were also dying and she couldn’t fold cranes for them too. She wished instead for world peace and an end to suffering. According to some versions of the story Sadako folded 644 cranes before she died. Her friends at school completed the task in honor of her. She was buried with a wreath of 1,000 cranes to honor her dream.

I have no intention of folding a thousand cranes in hope that I will be granted my heart’s desire. There is a better way – a way that is guaranteed to work.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4)

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