Sister Kristin Crawford’s tapestry of service, prayer, and healing

Finding art everywhere

I’ve always been a collector of the odd and beautiful bits of nature: sparking stones, gnarled branches, shells, feathers…. Hopefully that childlike love of the extra-ordinary carries through in the act of creating.

I’d call myself a “found artist.” A scripture verse, line of poetry, or beautiful scene inspires me to try to abstractly capture its meaning using wire, beads, cans, screen, branches and other odds and ends. Often, I hold in mind a person—one of our patients, a coworker, or a sister—as I weave bead and wire. It’s a special gift to believe each creation will find a home with the person who needs it.

This “hidden ministry” is also a blessing to me because any donations received for the artwork help support the mission of Jubilee Farm.

Creating a healing oasis

Who knew fish have personalities? Asked to tend the 120-gallon saltwater aquarium at Cancer Care Specialists where I minister as a clinical laboratory scientist, I never dreamed how rewarding or involved the task would become.

Daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning chores have been well worth the effort, given the reactions of the patients receiving chemotherapy. The soothing interplay of rippling light and water seems to bring an almost hypnotic peace and hopefully ease our patients’ anxiety and pain.

Especially rewarding is midafternoon feeding time, which also allows me the opportunity to briefly visit with the patients, many of whom have questions or observations about the fish and coral.

Several years ago, a catastrophic overnight power outage led to the death of all our fish and coral. Despite the sadness, patients and staff shared the hope and excitement of new life and growth as we slowly rebuilt the aquarium…a poignant lesson that new life comes from death.

Tending the wild creatures

“…not a sparrow falls to the ground before your Creator is aware of it…” (Mt. 10:29)

While gazing out the window at the kitchen sink, I saw a tiny bird being attacked by two much larger birds and hurried out—in all my righteous ignorance—to intervene. New to Decatur, I wasn’t sure what to do with the little traumatized critter until the local zoo provided the name of a nearby wildlife rehabilitator.

Mary Rotz runs Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on her family farm in Warrensburg, Ill. Handing off the small robin at a halfway point, I learned Mary was in desperate need of help. Thus began a ministry that has spanned nearly two decades. Far less directly involved in the physical nurturing of orphaned and wounded wildlife, I now serve as a contact point for those wishing to contribute items for the twice-yearly yard sales which raise funds for the non-profit. Outdated yet usable medical supplies are also donated and put to good use.

Mary and her “animal whisperer” co-worker, Buffy Stone, have been superb teachers and mentors to all who bring them animals to nurse and release back into the wild. Jubilee Farm has provided a new home to several rescues, including a fox, an owl and a red-tailed hawk.

Sister Kristin transitioned from life as an elementary and high school teacher to laboratory technician in 1998. She first worked on Assiniboine tribal lands in Montana, then at Cancer Care Specialists of Central Illinois since 2000. To see more of her creative work, visit Jubilee Farm.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois logo
Scroll to Top