Back when I was young and foolish and had no idea of cultural appropriation or even much knowledge at all about Ukraine, I briefly became a member of the Queen’s University Ukrainian Club.
I joined because I had three lovely Ukrainian friends- a boyfriend, a future boyfriend, a gal pal. I joined for the parties, the vodka, the perogies. It was all tasty and fun and everyone seemed full of the cheery cultural spirit I lacked in my own pale upbringing.
I lacked understanding of the challenges behind this background but I was quite willing to drape myself over it, learning how to make Ukrainian goodies, dancing to the music.
I tried my hand at making pysanky, thanks to some excellent kistkas constructed by my friend and his apt tutelage. I remember the weight of the raw egg on my hand as we drew patterns on it the eggs in wax, dipped them in dye, drew again.
The last bit of creating the pysanky involved heating the egg gently, wiping away the melted wax, revealing the colourful designs underneath. The egg was always at the point of breakage, safe only when held gently yet firmly, an interesting tension to create.
Much later, I tried again, only to realize that the numb hands I have now meant the egg was endangered- I broke many.
The feeling of that warmed egg in my careful hand is in my thoughts today as I read the news about Ukraine. I dread the heavy handed people invading, risking crushing the beauty that resides in the country. As I listen to the news, my hands curl, as if to cup Ukraine in safety, even as the heat of the candle approaches.
We all seem to be in an angry mood these days, using eggs as weapons rather than art objects. I wish that all would take the time to hold an egg in their cupped hand, sense its strength and its fragility, and send wishes for courage to our world leaders to demonstrate both.
Thinking of the people of Ukraine, and in fact, of all peoples enwrapped in war and threat.