It is the feeling. It’s the feeling of comfort and affection. As we’re coming back together after a long time, it’s this feeling that convinces me we have succeeded: we are a family. The elderly residents of the Hebrew Home greet me and the young men from Children’s Village with hugs and kisses and questions and laughter. After that we’re right back into our circle, telling stories and listening gratefully to every voice.
For our fall sessions we’ve tried to stay focused on providing space for each person’s real life stories to emerge and enrich our circle. At the same time, we’ve used prompts to push ourselves to be more poetic. One example is the following poem in which we each described ourselves as something in nature. This is inevitably poetic, i.e. I am the sun. But then we mixed into it one line by each person to apologize for something. We said sorry. The poem that emerged captures something of our human mystery. We are at once full of all the majesty of mountains and sorry for failing to care for those around us. We do in truth carry the beauty of a rain shower but we also fail to be there for those closest to us in our time of need. This poem brings some of this mystical contradiction to light. Hearing it in the voices of our elders and our youth was enough for me to take a long pause and reflect. A quiet moment to remember our breadth and our steps. This journey, always beginning, that takes us to destinations far beyond the streets outside our windows. Its good to be back together, to share our truths and our mysteries amidst family. And it’s good to travel together. I always wonder where we’ll end up next…
We Could Be the Ocean
A poem by the Youth of Children’s Village and the elders of the Hebrew Home
I am the foliage of the Fall.
I want everyone to take a leaf to remember me by.
I am the sun
I am sorry if I ever said anything to hurt anyone
I am the people
I am sorry for the candy
I am the morning
I am sorry that I didn’t visit you before you died
I am the lake where people go wading
I am sorry that I took so long to forgive you.
I am the dog
I am sorry for not listening to you when you talk.
I am a canyon
I am sorry that I can’t be with my children and family
I am a cheetah
I am sorry for getting mad at you and not talking to you anymore.
I am a cat with nine lives
I am sorry for saying things to you in such a tone of voice but you helped me to see that I have a lot of your hurt and you have mine.
I am a fire ant
I am sorry I cannot be the daughter that you deserve and need me to be.
I am a cool breeze
I am sorry I can’t always be there when you need me to be.
I am a Siberian husky; part wolf, part dog
I am sorry I couldn’t make payments for perpetual care on your grave.
I am music
I am sorry for not following directions the first time.
I am a rain shower
I am sorry for eating the last ox tail.
I am a lion with everyone looking up to me.
I am sorry that I turned my head away from you
I am a blue fire breathing dragon that protects other dragons.
I am sorry for not doing what you asked me to do; not being more patient; for being unable to help you in your time of need; for abandoning you; for being so angry that you left me 20 years ago; for not putting more into my life…
But I know
We could be the colors of a Peacock
We could be the flowers
We could be jaguars
We could be gardens
We could be Mother Nature
We could be people without disease or sickness
Because we could be the ocean—we could cleanse ourselves
We could be Love.
We are Love.
--Submitted by Intergeneartional LitClub facilitator and Peace Poet, Luke Nephew