Asbury’s Young and Old


by John C. Westervelt


        The young and old walk side by side through the southeast doors of Asbury on a Monday morning. The young ones come for preschool. Soon the foyer is filled to standing room only with children and mothers, who are waiting for the doors to the children’s area to be unlocked.

        The older ones, who call themselves the Crafty Ladies, make their way upstairs with a box of craft material in one hand and a covered dish of food in the other. Throughout the morning old—yet still nimble—fingers stitch, glue, crochet, knit, and paint accompanied by non-stop conversation. By noon, all the older ones are anxious to see what potluck has provided for lunch.

        Meanwhile, in the far southeast corner of the second floor, four-year-old fingers, nimble but not fully coordinated, work on children’s crafts at five tables. Sitting in the middle of a small table for two children is a crayon-melt holder. A wooden handle is attached to a heated metal bar with ten small, metal cups attached. Each cup is filled with a different colored crayon that takes on the consistency of melted wax.

The children pick up a piece of paper and begin their art. A child moves a Q-tip from a cup to the paper to spread melted crayon. The children use most of the rainbow of colors in their picture. Such art comes only from the creativity of a child.

One of my jobs as a preschool volunteer over the years has been to gather the broken crayons and prepare them for the crayon-melt holder. My once nimble fingers are now not so nimble from what most every old person finally gets and calls arthritis. My pain does not lessen the children’s need for crayon-melt creativity.

As I awoke on the last Monday of February two thoughts came to mind. One, this is the day of my wedding fifty-seven years ago. An overriding thought that had been around all weekend was to take some crayons to the Crafty Ladies meeting to see if they would like to prepare some crayons for the children.

On this morning, I left the preschool classroom with a Ziploc bag of blue crayons, a wooden tool to hold a crayon, and a set of X-Acto knives and headed down the corridor to the room where the Crafty Ladies were meeting. Inside, I asked if they would like to prepare crayons for the children. They tried and said, “Yes.”

Betty Seetin, a Crafty Lady and a fellow member of the Asbury Joy Community, went back down the hallways to the four-year-old classroom with me to get another half dozen bags of crayons. Just before noon, she returned with bags of crayons ready for the metal cups. She said they had a production line of four around a table. One lady cut the paper covering the crayon, two ladies pealed the paper, and one cut the crayons in three-fourth inch pieces. Betty picked up the remaining bags of crayons for next Monday’s meeting of the Crafty Ladies.

On that Monday, the children took some of their crayon-melt artwork to give to the Crafty Ladies who had been so helpful. Some of the women had “Grandmother” on their shirts. I observed joy on the faces of children and grandmothers, who were reminded of their own grandchildren.

The weekend thought to enlist the help of the Crafty Ladies was likely from the Holy Spirit, who wanted the children to continue enjoying crayon-melt artwork and the Crafty Ladies to have the joy of helping the children.


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