Pysanky Writer: Fran Beaupre
Blog Post #17
Writing Prayer: Interview Series
Pysanky writer, Fran Beaupre, shares her inspiring story and passion for pysanky; revealing that “pysanky is a mechanism to bring you closer and closer to God. That’s the spiritual part. It helps you understand how blessed you are in the world.”
How does someone become passionate about pysanky?
For Fran Beaupre, it happened quite unexpectedly. She was watching Reading Rainbow on PBS with her young daughter as host LeVar Burton read Rechenka’s Eggs. When the story finished, the author of the book, Patricia Polacco, presented a demonstration on how her Ukrainian grandmother made pysanky. Fran knew in that moment that she really wanted to learn how to do it herself.
“I believe in my heart that God puts before you whatever you ask. In terms of asking God for anything you want, He answers in one of three ways: Yes. Not now. I have something better for you. It’s never no.”
God put before her a pysanky class. (Yes.) It got cancelled. (Not now). She signed up for another class. (Yes.) Another cancellation. (Not now). Fran’s persistence turned into delight when she received an invitation to attend a semi-private class with a wonderful teacher, a half hour from her home in Georgia. (Definitely something better.) The class taught her the technique of applying beeswax and dye to an egg as she created her very first pysanka.
Fran spent several years after that studying the information in the books published by the Ukrainian Gift Shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and used their guidance to write pysanky. This formed the foundation of her understanding of the symbols, designs and colors that correlate with traditional Ukrainian pysanky.
Fran calls herself a “cradle Catholic.” She was raised by Polish parents who honored their religious traditions. (Her sister continues to do the Polish, “meatless” Christmas Eve supper for the family, of which Fran has only missed once.) Fran left the church during college. She came back when she married but said something still felt missing.
“When I found out that pysanky, its beauty and symbolism, were tied to faith, your belief in God – that did it – reconnected me to my Lord and Savior. Pysanky is a mechanism to bring you closer and closer to God. That’s the spiritual part. It helps you understand how blessed you are in the world. Writing pysanky is relieving, a comforting and soothing way to give glory to God.”
The above selection of Fran’s eggs includes a goose-egg pysanka and the “Jesus eggs” that a friend encouraged her to create. Fran says she has always loved art. Her husband says Fran finds vibrant colors delightful. They owned a stained glass shop for over 20 years, selling supplies, creating commissioned pieces and teaching classes. Fran loves to sew and, quite remarkably, sews all her husband’s shirts! She also enjoys being a school nurse and a Sunday School teacher.
When asked if the meaningful symbols written on the egg were a form of prayer writing for her, Fran responded: “I never thought of it that way. Wow! I do feel like I am saying something to God but I never thought about it that way.” Fran views prayer as such a valuable asset that when she begins the task of writing a pysanka, she instinctively, intuitively, says a prayer.
“When you write pysanky and you have that wonderful sensation of fulfillment, of contentment, you want to share that experience.” That’s why Fran will again be teaching classes at the PysankyUSA Retreat in Wilkes-Barre, PA in July.
She will also be sharing something else at the 2019 retreat. Fran brought to God’s attention that she wanted to “expand her canvas” from chicken eggs to goose eggs, but wasn’t sure where to find them. Shortly thereafter, Fran found herself on Facebook exploring the pysanky group she belongs to. Much to her surprise, an offer was posted by a pysanky-admirer who lives in Georgia, one who owns a flock of geese and an over-abundance of goose eggs. The post asked, “Does anyone want the eggs for pysanky?” Fran happily plans to share her goose-egg good fortune with her fellow pysanky enthusiasts at the retreat.
Fran Beaupre’s journey with pysanky began with Rechenka’s Eggs. The journey continues, with no end in sight, because for Fran, it really is a journey of love.
“When a Ukrainian woman sat down to her solemn task of decorating pysanky, made the sign of the Cross and whispered, ‘God, help me!’ she believed He would.”
– Gloria Surmach, Ukrainian Arts, 1952, Ukrainian Youth’s League of North America
Copyright © 2019 Nancy Kopack.
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