Embroidered Thoughts

Sometime after I graduated college, my Popo was trying to throw out a large, pink sheet. Upon it depicted a traditional Chinese dragon and phoenix. The dragon had bright orange scales and red spikes trailing along its curving body. The phoenix’s head and torso were a dark forest green, but its wings and tail feathers were brilliantly colored so that no feather looked the same. Both beings were enshrouded by wisps of many-colored clouds that made it appear as if they were actually approaching one another: the phoenix ascending from below, the dragon descending from above. The colors of these mystical creatures was emphasized by the soft pink satin that this scene it had been embroidered into.

My aunt, enamored by the image, wanted to keep it, for she said that it could be used for some craft and would be a waste to toss out such a fine piece. My Popo didn’t mind the proposition, but thought it appropriate to let her know that the image depicted a dragon in love with a phoenix, right before both creatures were about to make love to one another.

To my aunt, it didn’t sound believable, and she dismissed this tale, telling it to me when I saw her a week later.

At first, I too could not believe that copulation was the message. Myths and legends aside, these were two different creatures: how could they procreate, much less make love to each other? I’m not trying to be crude, but it’s impossible for me to imagine. Yet, the more I ponder this sheet’s story, (the sheet is now the cover for a large body pillow in my room), the more I understand why it never needed to make sense in the literal sense. No longer do I see bird or reptile, but lovers captivated with passion for the other. After all, is it not beautiful that these two rarities, both uniquely different, find equal standing in their shared love for their kingdom, the sky? Or perhaps I have put words into this image’s mouth —like my aunt and Popo— when I should let it speak for itself? Is it my job as the writer to give it a story and meaning, or simply to write how it is beautiful meaning nothing at all?

A Question of the Note


In the outbreak of high racial tensions and divisions on campus, I wrote this to be a reminder to those who are followers of Christ. While this article is specifically addressed to those in my dorm, the purpose of it is applicable to everyone, regardless of being on a campus or not. In humility I present these thoughts and ask that although you may not agree with what I have to say, that at least you take it to heart and contemplate what you hold to be true. 

Dear Sisters,

You, and likely the rest of the campus, have heard of the racially biased note written to one of our sisters in Lambein. The context was that she was an unwelcome presence on campus based on her ethnicity. Around this time last year, a similar incident occurred at our sister college Roberts Wesleyan. While the student was out on an away game with his basketball team, his room was broken into: furniture was upturned, clothes flung all over the room, his wallet missing, and a racially derogative message was written on his wall. The students there also asked the same questions as we are today; “Why did this happen? This college was supposed to bring us together, so why are we more divided?”

Now I do not have an explanation for why or how this came to be or how we can resolve this. What I do have is a suggestion for a private examination of your own hearts. You don’t have to agree with what I say, I just want you all to think of where you stand and how you will make a change. Everyone, please get over yourselves. Now you must be like, “What this chick playing at, telling me to get over myself,” but hold on, I will explain. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood called East New York. The majority of the residents are Hispanics, Latinos, Caribbeans, Southern Asians and African Americans. My mother is Chinese and my father is of European decent- in summary we are considered the 1% of the 1%. However, I choose not to compare myself to my neighbors as a young, racially mixed woman; rather I present myself as a child of God and who I am in Him; this is something more than my physical attributes can ever define me as. You are a new being in Christ, the world can no longer define you by its standards: those around you will see and know who’s you are. What we are judged on is our character: while appearance plays a small factor to that, it does not compare to the value in a person.

To be honest, I am rather disappointed by the conflict here in Houghton. This college was supposed to be a place where we celebrated in our differences; instead we are growing more divided because of them. Where we are supposed to be growing and learning we are instead dividing and breaking down. Sisters, this is where I return to my original suggestion, please get over yourselves. Please get over yourselves and get into what God has made you to be. God has made us to be a family united, not divided. God has made us with differences, but has given us the best similarity, Jesus. Sisters, since he has made us all beautiful and loved equally in him, what more do we need? When our identity is placed in him; not in our looks, our race, our gender, our political views; when we drop all these things for Christ, we become a community united in faith and have much stronger ties than anything this world can offer. I conclude with this short poem I wrote, “What Will You Do With What You Have Seen?”

Did you see the note put under the door? The hate seething from its contents, directed to someone who has hopes and dreams of excelling, of relaxing and having fun with friends: to be dragged down to such a low- did you see the note put under the door?

Did you see the writing on the wall? The room thrown into disarray, cabinets and desks rummaged and rampaged, some items taken, others damaged, stat sheets and essays strewn across the floor. There’s a student left to piece together it all- did you see the writing on the wall?

What will you do with what you have seen? Will you point fingers at who’s to blame or brush it off as one does after losing a game? With love and compassion will you respond to the note? Will you paint over and forget what was on the wall? Would you progress or would you act like it has never been- what will you do with what you have seen?