This month, I’ve joined 34 other jewellery designers to participate in the Challenge of Literature, a fun blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz.
The hardest part for me, was deciding what story? Should I pick a classic fairy tale, an intense crime drama, a thriller or a real life story… Finally, I opted to create a piece of jewellery inspired by a book I recently read as part of the book club I belong to. I was inspired by both the miraculous story and the woman behind it.
I think all of us remember what we were doing and where we were when we heard the terrible news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centre on 9 September 2001. Even in Australia (so far away), I recall where I was as vividly as if it was yesterday. So, I chose Angel in the Rubble: The Miraculous Rescue of 9/11’s Last Survivor, the heart-wrenching and life-changing true story of Genelle Guzman-McMillan who was the last survivor to be pulled out alive from under the wreckage of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.
“Trapped under concrete and steel with her right hand pinned under her body and legs crushed beneath a steel beam, Genelle Guzman-McMillan extended her left hand into the sliver of open space above her and found the strength to pray … and pray and pray.”
My rosary design is symbolic of Genelle Guzman-McMillan’s conversations with God during her horrific 27 hour ordeal trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Centre. It symbolises her prayers to God for a second chance, the miracle of her survival and her renewed faith.
The rosary decades are created with black agate rounds interspersed with silver Miyuki seed beads. The pater beads are faceted fire crackle black agate rounds with specks of grey (to symbolise the darkness and the intense clouds of dust), which are framed with sterling silver bead caps (representing the steel beams and fallen building).
The cross is bead woven in black using 4mm Jet Swarovski bicones and size 11 black Miyuki seed beads. The front side of the cross features a small diamond-shaped window of 4mm Violet Opal Swarovski bicones, which are symbolic of the light – both the physical light which shone through as she was rescued and the spiritual light – Paul, the ’angel’ who reassured her that everything would be ok. As a bead woven piece, the gaps between the bicones also allow the light to constantly shine through.
Unsure of her eternal fate, she pleaded for hours with God to forgive her of her sins and to give her another chance. “Someone grabbed me by my hand and called me by my name, saying, ‘Genelle, I got you. My name is Paul.’ ” Genelle never found Paul, and none of the other rescuers ever saw or heard him. She is convinced that this mysterious Paul was an angel sent by God to encourage her throughout her ordeal, that he was the sign she had prayed for.
Some of the reviews of Angel in the Rubble have commented that it is too ‘preachy’ and deviated from the gritty realism of the story. Perhaps it does…but at the end of the day this is Genelle’s story. Her experience has put her on a spiritual path and she shares this as part of her 9/11 experience. Regardless of your religion (and I’m not religious), it’s an incredible account of one person’s harrowing and life-changing experience, and I’d recommend reading it. If you do, let me know what you think.
Go to Erin’s Treasures Found blog for the complete list of the Challenge of Literature participants.