Renewal is a consistent theme in Southeast Asian culture. From store fronts to prayer beads to cultural dances, hope for renewal speaks loud and clear in this region. Take the Cambodian Khmer Apsara dance for example.
Thumbs and middle fingers pinched, wrists twisted outward and palms raised to the heavens. This mudra (hand gesture) represents blessing the new seed before planting and renewing the land. The dance ends with a single lotus flower placed in the hair of the Apsara Mera, the lead dancer, symbolizing purity of heart and renewal of spirit.
The lotus flower is thought to be free of impurities and a symbol of rebirth, thus, explaining its prevalence in a country still seeking both renewal and restoration. The muddy roots represent our messy lives and the lotus flower rising above the mud to bloom, clean and fragrant represents human's desire to break free of suffering and embrace a new future. The hope of a new future is evident in eyes of the Cambodian people who continue to deal with the fragmented pieces history left behind.
While many know Cambodia's devastating story, few have taken action to play a part in their next chapter. Dr. Beat Richner, "Beatocello" is one such character who has dedicated his life to renewal for Cambodia's children. Dr. Richner is a suisse pediatrician and cello player who weaves both his profession and creative habit of playing the cello together to serve Cambodian families.
In 1992, he moved from Switzerland to Cambodia to help rebuild and manage the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital where he volunteered with the Red Cross just before the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. He was forced to return home to avoid possible retaliation and death. Since his return to Cambodia, he and his team have provided free healthcare for millions of Cambodian children. He also holds cello concerts for tourists as fundraisers for the clinic. His clinic, or "creative habitat," now attracts lines and lines of moms and kids waiting for their "Beatocello" check up as shown on the YouTube video on the homepage of his website:
(Watch until the end...Astounding!!!)
Seeing Dr. Richner's vision of hope in the face of such adversity is truly touching and inspiring. Imagine how many people would miss his creative habit if he had not followed his intuition and returned to a war torn land to rebuild this children's hospital. Generations are being changed because he planted a seed of creativity creating a lotus effect of renewal.
What creative habit do you feel called to develop? What lotus effect will transpire as a result?
Now is the time to plant your seed, share your harvest, and renew the spirit within. Generations may follow!