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Friday, October 14, 2011

Clara Muxen: The First Miracle

The First Miracle

I imagine the fog was thick, as their V-8 pulled around the last curve near Artist’s Point, south of Winslow.  Parking to stretch, Clara Margaret Muxen, her ailing mother and her brother, made a discovery that would change not only their lives but the lives of many others in the Boston Mountains in the 1940’s, a discovery, in fact, that continues to change lives today.

It may have been the color of the sky, the water down in the valley, or the sun streaming through the fog, but whatever it was, Clara Muxen would later tell friends of her epiphany: “I knew this was the place for my school.”  The school that she spoke of was what she later lovingly referred to as the Craft School of the Ozarks in Winslow, Arkansas, known today as Ozark Folkways on Highway 71, south of Fayetteville.

Miss Muxen was said to have been a tall, rather masculine woman who began her adult life as a nun.  It was only after she contracted tuberculosis and upon her brother’s offer and, it seems, insistence that she agreed to leave the convent and travel to a sanatorium in Switzerland where she remained until her health improved.  Following her convalescence, Miss Muxen devoted the rest of her life to teaching children and adults in the field of education.

On that spring morning when she stepped out of the car and into the Arkansas Ozarks to stretch, she was a retired educator in her early sixties, a sociologist in search of a way to help the poor of the Ozarks, and a pious religious woman who had apparently been praying for a miracle for some time.

That prayer, the one that led to the miracle that morning, would be the first of many that she and others across the nation would lift up on behalf of the Craft School of the Ozarks over the next twenty years of its construction; a prayer that began a dream, a dream that was sadly was not completely realized in Miss Muxen’s lifetime, but a dream that lives on today through Ozark Folkways.

No one knows exactly what led Miss Muxen to this dream, this calling, but what we do know, is that she had a great desire to lift the poor of the Ozarks out of the throes of poverty, and this Craft School of the Ozarks was to be the instrument she would use to devote to that cause . . . 

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