Like a good neighbor, this blog, with a little neighborly push from Jo Chang, connected me to a kindred spirit in Florida. Unshakably Pacific in more ways than one, Kaysie McAlister announces herself as “not Catholic but totally sold on Catholic charms for what they mean and represent.” She longs for a return to the truths we learned in kindergarten: “share, don’t fight etc. So simple. Like the serenity prayer. So hard to achieve. “
Prompted by her affinity for the Catholic sensibility when she picks up a Mother Mary or St. Michael medallion or a mustard seed embedded in a glass bead, Kaysie has been pairing charms like these in key chains with AIDS ribbons and Equality symbols for some time. She launched her website recently with just three items, delighting in forcing St.Michael to compete with the mustard seed for attention from would-be collectors or fundraisers. She promises that other charms will appear as she identifies good causes in whose names she creates these keychains, loaded with hope and a prayer. She says she is showing her wares to demonstrate what she does with her hands to keep them from being idle. (There’s that Catholic-sounding conscience again!)
It all started with a bicycle ride
Kaysie began this small enterprise with big-hearted aspirations after being involved in a bicycle ride to raise money for HIV/AIDS work in Florida. “I saw a little keychain made of recycled bicycle chain and I knew it was a great idea. I made over 600 key chains for rider goody bags and sold them individually to raise money for this cause. Slowly this has evolved into a wonderful way to represent causes or offer them to others as a way to make money.”
There is something very grounded and green about the idea of cleaning and re-constructing old bicycle chain and giving it new life with a meaningful charm that people are attracted to. I wait with anticipation for mine—having succumbed to both St. Michael and the mustard seed—to arrive any day now. I expect that holding them in my hand or giving them away to others will impart a sense of being linked to a modest effort born from the heart and an abiding faith in the possibility that we can each help effect change for the better. It isn’t exactly the same as beating swords into ploughshares, but close enough for now and a small, tactile reminder of the Catholic call to sow the seeds for change amidst the daily busyness of our lives.
Check out St. Michael, the mustard seed, new causes and touches of whimsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/keychainsforchange