Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect." — Jonathan Lockwood Huie

As I drive up to Murphy Hall, I notice the park across the way has clotheslines strung from tree to tree with endless rows of colorful t-shirts hanging by clothespins. It is the UCLA Clothesline Project.

Each t-shirt that is strung on the clothesline contains a powerful story that gives voice to someone who has experienced violence, yet has overcome this difficult experience. Collectively, these t-shirts become the Clothesline Project Display that helps to educate and raise social awareness about violence, symbolizing the “airing-out of dirty laundry”.

Some of the t-shirts contain messages of anger and some contain messages of justice, both served and unserved. Some messages are sassy, while others contain sarcasm. Some messages express violence against men and women, and some against children. The color of each t-shirt represents the nature of the violence endured. All of the messages share a common theme of empowerment.

As I stroll through the park, deciphering the message on each t-shirt, it occurs to me that some of our most difficult moments in life can actually serve to shape our moral character and values. They often refine our compassion, fuel our determination and at times, guide us to find our purpose or calling in life. It is our collection of life experiences, both good and bad, that just may be “a gift that is not wrapped as we expect”. ♥