There is a legend in Japan that folding 1000 paper cranes will grant a person one wish. For that reason, a 1000 paper cranes is often present at weddings, the birth of babies, and places where good wishes are appropriate. The act of folding 1000 paper cranes figures in Eleanor Coerr’s Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. If you haven’t read Sadako’s story, please find your nearest independent bookstore and buy a copy. It’s the kind of book that speaks to one’s soul on so many levels, but I warn you, don’t be surprised if a few tears fall.
I was reminded of Sadako and her quest to fold 1000 cranes last night when Oldest announced at 7:10 pm that he had an assignment he needed to complete for school in the morning. As Mister Soandso and I gathered about the coffee table and attempted to decipher badly photocopied origami instructions, we asked Oldest just why he was needing to fold paper cranes.
“It’s for leadership class. We are going to sell origami cranes as a fund-raiser. We want to raise $1000 to send to Japan to help the victims of the earthquake.”
There are so many things about this vignette that make me happy. Oldest attends a small, fairly low-income elementary school. A teacher there had a vision of connecting kids here with kids there. And what better way to really connect some of those kids than by having them fold, crease after crease, 1000 paper cranes?
As I folded paper, I struggled. Both my fingers and my mind found the task a challenge. But my heart was happy. Very, very happy. Because even if Oldest’s classmates fail to raise $1000 to send to Japan, they will never forget the reason why they wished to help.
I challenge each of you to fold a stack of paper into cranes. It isn’t so very hard, but it will make you slow down and pay attention to what you are doing. You will have to think about your actions, measure your movements. You will have to blend precision with a bit of artistic flair. You will notice little aches in your fingers and neck, little discomforts. But then remember why people having been folding paper cranes for hundreds of years…in hopes of receiving one wish. Sadako wished to survive. The kids in my son’s class are wishing to help other kids.
I wish all the children of the world to know more happiness than sorrow, more sunshine than rain. And I wish them thoughtfulness so that when they are adults and pause, creasing paper this way and that, they remember what it was like to be a child…wishing.
ps. The cranes in this photo are glass and I collect them. My goal is to line my mantle with them. When I’m worried about something, I like to rearrange them. It soothes me. So if any of you want to send me a few or a few hundred, that would be groovy. You can get them at New Seasons. 🙂