The first of this year I volunteered to lead an effort in the Triad area called One City One Prompt (OCOP). This global initiative to get folks talking, creating and sharing has been lead by the Transformative Language Arts Network. As a member, I brought it to my community, and week after week I've been working with groups to spark conversation and creativity on this year's OCOP theme -- "begin again."
Before getting started with the OCOP workshops in March, I shared with a childhood friend, with enthusiasm in my voice, what I was about to do. His response was a question: "What are you beginning again?" Silly question.
I told him that this wasn't about me but about getting others to think of their answer. Little did I know that with each session -- whether large or small, for women or both genders, old or young -- I would dig deeper within myself to discover how I might "begin again."
This asking everyone else and hearing their beautiful stories and reading their eloquent poetry and prose -- like the lady who wants to begin writing again after neglecting it after her divorce, the mom who wants to carve out more time for self-care again, the couple who is starting over after the loss of a child, the woman who wants to bring fire back into her marriage, the executive who has discovered the place forgiveness has in being a servant leader -- all had me pausing in a way I did not expect nor could continue to ignore.
After two months of listening, I could not sit in the role of "facilitator" and not take on the flavor of what I was witnessing. My friend's question, "What are you beginning again," kept coming to me.
I think, when we feel our life is moving forward to whatever degree, we begin to think we don't need to begin again. We become complacent and comfortable. But the more we are silent and still and creative, the truth of our soul becomes clearer.
We hide behind fear and excuses and busyness but the truth is each day we are given the opportunity to "begin again." More than hearing my friend's question I could hear my adamant, defensive response. That was a trigger for me to sort through what I had been ignoring for years. I realized I was guilty of being comfortable. Stuck is another appropriate word.
This two-month OCOP series -- that fell during the Lenten season -- allowed me to find my way to my answer. And for me, it's a bold and risky answer. But beginning again is about that. I have seen in many ways that it's about forgiveness of self and others. It's about cleaning of the slate, and I mean really cleaning it. It's about hope and faith. It's about having a vision and a dream. It's about believing that this time it will be different and it will be better. It requires not just saying these things to impress yourself but knowing and feeling them to be true.
I thank God for this full and beautiful life. And I believe God is calling me to see and experience more, and in turn to give more ("to whom much is given, much is required"). Here I was thinking OCOP was for everyone else when truly it has been for me.
Here's a poem that I've written based on the prompt, "begin again."
Tears that once grayed
The cracked face
Present a mosaic
Around everyone stood, marveled
Its distinguished features
Attempted to interpret intentions
Everyone claimed a corner of the display
Cracks hid beneath what the eyes could see
Broken pieces not fully fused
Beauty undefined and underestimated
The cost was too high to stay
Then she turned her back
Faced a haven miles away
Her waiting place
There she found the courage to look in
Time touched her on the shoulder
Whispered when she least expected
"Let's begin again"