Saturday, November 25, 2023

Peace, Love and Understanding: Papier Mâché Beads

 A week after the Hamas attack on Israel with tensions running high, global tension rising, and people finding even more reasons to fight the multi-front reality wars, I was in a Lyft car on my way to an 8-day Krishnamurti Retreat in Ojai. My Lyft driver, Abdulcadir, was friendly and curious and after questioning me about my destination and about Krishnamurti, he shared that he had his own daily spiritual practice. Every day he would write down a spiritual thought or principle, carry it with him, and periodically meditate on the principle throughout the day. We agreed that the basic ideas of kindness, gratitude and acceptance are common to all religions and spiritual belief systems, and were mutually baffled why the human species keeps turning on itself.

He reached for an old envelope on the front passenger seat that he used to record spiritual principles for his daily practice and handed it back to me, I asked if I could photograph it and he happily agreed.

Original envelope front

Envelope back

I have worked with paper mâché beads in the past to process life events, and have found it to be a deeply satisfying, slow meditative process over a period of days or weeks. The process of making these beads is outlined in an earlier post, Funerary Art: Souvenirs from the Bardo. When I returned home after the retreat, I reproduced scaled printouts of Abducadir's envelope to produce this beaded strand while the conflict in Gaza escalated.

It is hard to make sense of the world and of humanity itself in these troubled times. I do it with my hands. It helps. Talk to strangers. Be kind. Make stuff. 


  1. Wearing prayers. Such a beautiful thing. Thanks for the link on how to make them,

  2. Was able to share the inspiring story of the beads with my book group today . We discussed the spiritual message as a metaphor for life and tied it to The Color Purple.


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