I relearned what passion meant this evening. In the midst of an unnerving battle inside, something broke light- a peace treaty that offered a hope of salvation: tonight, my girls reminded me of the reason why I fell in love with the word.
Tonight, during our trip to the Hue-Man bookstore in Harlem, the girls collectively wrote poems. New York's youth poet laureate, Zora Howard, was our special guest this evening, and she joined us all in on a writing exercise that challenged us to write one line after another, adding a piece of ourselves to create what would be one collective piece. She started us off with four blank pages with one topic written above each: broken promises, friendship, family issues, and breakups.
We started it with one line, then passed it on. Each time we passed the paper, we folded it over so that only one line was visible. By adding just one line each, the girls witnessed the magic of a seemingly disjointed and scattered process eventually bloom into an overflowing expression of thought and emotion.
As I write this, I recognize that this poem process gives me a perfect metaphor for life: all these scattered pieces, broken and seemingly jagged, eventually come together to make its own unexpected masterpiece.
Zora not only facilitated the writing process, but shared a piece of poetry with the girls:
I felt so proud to watch the emerging excitement they exclaimed while watching her. I witnessed a spark light up inside all of them, the wonder and magic of seeing a reflection of their beauty unfold in such a powerful voice, by someone who shared their experience. Someone who they can relate to and aspire to be. Growing up in a neighborhood where they watch their peers become mothers prematurely, and where they too often watch others make bad choices, knowing Zora was college-bound was something that resonated a new kind of motivation within them. Zora, who like them, was raised in Harlem, was attending Yale University in ten days. With their mouths agape in awe, I was reminded of that feeling that comes when inspiration hits you in a way that you will remember for years to come. The time when inspiration transforms you, and when inspiration becomes passion and passion becomes salvation.
Salvation. It is with these words that save us all. Loaded with truth and hope, it becomes weapon, shield, growth, destruction, and rebuilding all at once. It is with these words that these young women from Harlem will know and learn how to carry their unending source of power. Tonight, these young women found their power and salvation. And through them, I rediscovered mine.
I am confident, more than ever, that through these Girls Clubs, we are transforming the world.