Here in the South, we like our lemonade and our sweet tea, so we talked about what it takes to make those two ubiquitous beverages.
Tea bags. Lemons. Boiling water. Cold water. Sugar. Ice.
We pour boiling water over the tea bags. We crush the lemons.
Kinda like life - which pours boiling water on us and crushes us. Ouch, ouch, ouch again.
Everyone gets burned by life. Everyone gets crushed by life. The question is - how do we deal with life's trials and tribulations?
Journaling, I suggested, gives us an outlet for cooling the hot parts and sweetening the sour parts.
I showed them some of my old journals and talked about when the privacy of my journals has been breached.
I explained how all the papers and tickets and flyers and stickers that have value and meaning to them can find a home in their journals.
They can write poems and stories and questions and prayers and dreams and fears in their journals.
They can protect their bosses and family members and other program participants from their unbridled anger and other inappropriate responses by pouring out their emotions in their journals. They can also prepare more appropriate answers and retorts on the pages of their journals. They laughed when I explained how my journals have saved my marriage and my children's lives on many occasions. Some people drink. Some smoke. Some shop excessively. Some withdraw. Some divorce. I journal.
I told them about how my father got rid of all his notebooks and Bibles before he died and how sad we were to realize that we wouldn't have any of his handwriting, any of his Sunday school lessons, or any of his Bible margin notes.
I talked about the fact that when I'm dead and gone, my children will read and see the worst of me in my journals, but they will also get to see the best of me, my prayers, my wandering, my wondering, my dreams, and my disappointments. It's not gonna be pretty, but I will be dead and gone, so I won't be around to be embarrassed.
We talked about having children and not being able to have children.
We talked about jobs challenges and not being able to find a job.
We talked about kanswer and loss and how grateful we are to be alive.
We talked about men and love and desire and healing.
We talked about our mothers and our siblings and how much we wish we were hugged more as children.
And we wrote. We made lists. We wrote about our hopes and dreams.
At the end of the session, we hugged each other good-bye - and they went back to their rooms with new journals, new pens, writing prompts, cookies and lemonade in their bellies, and a smile on their faces.
I hope to see them again before too much time passes.
I had the honor of walking with twelve other early risers this morning - exploring another new neighborhood, greeting the parents and kids waiting for the school bus, waving at garbage collectors (who returned our greeting by honking their horns), and picking up trash as we walked. This is a beautiful city we live in. Courageous people. Hope-filled people. Hard working people. Patient people. Friendly people - around us and among us.
Our walk began to Little Rock AME Zion Church. We walked to St. Paul Baptist Church. We begin each walk with "some inspiration," and I have been bringing the inspirational quote for the last three or four walks.
This is what I wrote for today's expedition: "This morning, as we stand in the parking lot of Little Rock AME Zion Church, I ponder the effect of little rocks. A little rock in your shoe can ruin a morning walk. A little rock bouncing on a highway can ruin your windshield and your day. A little rock that isn’t sorted out of a bag of dried beans can crack a tooth. Little rocks piled on top of each other can create a fortress. May each of us be little rocks that make the forward movement of racists and other bigots extremely uncomfortable. May each of us be little rocks that cause injustice to crack and fall apart and have to come to a sudden stop at the side of the road. May we be little rocks that together create a fortress for the many people around us who are in need of a safe place to rest. May we be peaceful and stubborn little rocks that cannot be sorted out of the hard conversations we enter and the challenging situations we encounter. May we each and may we all become Little Rock Churches, Little Rock Sanctuaries, and Little Rock Safe Spaces everywhere we find ourselves and everywhere we walk together."
We walk together.
We talk together.
We laugh together - a lot.
We stand in silence together, blessing the neighborhoods we explore.
We ask each other tough questions.
We challenge each other about our parenting.
We support each other as we send our children off to college.
May we walk together wherever we are.
May we talk and laugh, cry and write together.
May we listen to each other's stories with empathy and presence.
May we walk each other home.
May we write each other home.
May we pray each other home.
PS. I recently took my wedding dress to Good Will. It languished for 24+ years in a box in a closet. My daughter is never going to wear it. I'm never going to wear it again, so off it went. Today, as I wandered through the store looking for nothing in particular, I spotted it. Selling for $69. Mixed feelings.
PSS. Last week, I took the license plate from our recently deceased Toyota Sienna back to the DMV.