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O“On a small square piece of paper, write down your biggest fear. Fold it into an origami bird and put the bird into a clean, empty eggshell. Glue the eggshell back together with the bird inside. Put the eggshell with the bird in it on a nest made from shredded cash register receipts. Hold the nest, the egg, the bird, the fear carefully in your hands, next to your heart. Keep it warm and talk to it softly until it hatches.”  Prompt #8 by Ruth Ozeki in the Preface to Choices (Borderline Press, 2016)

 IMG_4287I executed Prompt #8 in this way: Our church’s office manager decorates her bulletin board with resplendent and sparkling cranes. I borrowed one. I wrote down my greatest fear and placed it in a plastic egg retrieved from our stash of Easter decorations in the garage. I chopped up some cash register receipts and formed them in a nest. I lifted it all up close to my heart, started to talk in the advised manner, and then…something hatched!

Silly! Self-centered! Improbable! Waste of time! By which I mean, my particular fear, not the prompt. Is irrational, very occasional claustrophobia a worthy pursuit for this thoughtful prompt?

No. I could better spend my nest of cash, time, and mental energy by remembering a little Japanese girl who made cranes from her hospital bed in the mid-1950s.

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.”–Sadako Sasaki. 

You’ve heard about Sadako, the two-year old who survived Hiroshima, but was diagnosed with leukemia, “the Atomic Bomb disease,” when she was eleven. She believed the Japanese legend that if you folded 1000 paper cranes, your wish would be granted, so she began to fold cranes to promote peace. Some stories say that she completed the project; others say that her classmates reached her goal after her death. In any case, her friends raised money for a peace memorial. It reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Building peace in the world.”

Sadako’s example has inspired peace projects all over the world. Her brother Masahiro Sasaki, now in his seventies, saved five of the original cranes and has either donated or plans to donate  one crane on each of the five continents.

IMG_4285I was told the Sadako story by a student who came into the library at the community college where I last worked as library director. This student had a bold question:”Do you think we could hang cranes from the ceiling?” She and a number of friends had formed a Peace Club and had folded 500 cranes. I managed to transfer the enthusiasm of the project to the facilities manager. Though I admired the cranes every day I walked through the door, I hadn’t given peace much attention. Its opposite, war, deserves our attention, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive for this prompt: peace.


Sadako Peace Project:

Seattle Peace Project: DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9352