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In a college class I took recently we were all treated to a writer’s circle facilitated by Scott Feifer. Scott spends hours every week providing a sort of therapy through these circles to all sorts of people: his school students, college students like us, people in correctional facilities, those being treated for addictions.

Scott’s rules were simple:

  1. Begin with “I remember.” Anytime you get stuck come back again to the that phrase.
  2. Keep writing until I tell you to stop.
  3. Don’t cross anything out.
  4. If you find yourself laughing, keep writing. If you find yourself crying, keep writing.

After giving us 10 or 15 minutes to write, Scott asked if any of us wanted to read aloud what we had written. He gave positive feedback on what we shared but did not give time for anyone else in the circle to respond.

Scott’s expresses his vision:

In a world where childhoods get stunted, stolen, or sacrificed, young people need safe spaces to express what is on their minds and in their hearts.

I was moved by this exercise. It gave each participant a voice. It gave me a chance to press on a sore spot in my own heart and share that pressing. (I cried nearly the whole time I wrote.)

Here is what I wrote, in its raw form:

I remember sitting in the hot Texas dusk last August, my baby girl in my lap. She was the sister I always wanted, the baby daughter I never had. She was singing a made-up song to me as the stars came out and the crickets chirped. Her 2-year-old eyes didn’t notice my tears. I wanted this moment to last forever, couldn’t believe that tomorrow I was going to say goodbye. Mom came out and found me red-eyed. “You aren’t sitting out here crying, are you?” she scolded gently. I didn’t have voice to answer.

The next morning I gave final hugs and kisses. Big boy Josh with his new cowboy hat form Mexico, baby Enoch with his dimpled grin, big tall Ben–how had my little brother grown so tall and wise? My sister-in-law Maria, sobbing herself. And little Dass. I was so grateful for her but my heart was tearing. 

I sobbed as we drove away, our truck pulling the now-empty trailer. Great shuddering sobs that shook my body and left me gasping but made no noise. I didn’t talk on the way to San Antonio, and when we pulled into our KOA I opted not to explore the River Walk this night. Instead I lay in the my bunk in the empty cabin and wet my pillow.

But then I thought about Hannah. She sobbed out her barrenness before the Lord and He gave her a son–little Samuel. She kept him till she weaned him–and then she gave him back to the Lord. Left him at the temple. Thanked God for the treasured moments and released her grip.

I released my grip as I cried to God–that hot night in San Antonio. I wouldn’t get my weekly fix of chubby arms hugging me and baby kisses–that exuberant “Aunt Dani” when I popped in unannounced, that joy in each new word discovered or skill learned. Skype would never fill the void–nor would new nephews and nieces born local.

But I would thank God for what He had given. I would save money for many plane tickets. I would write letters. And I would let the ache make hunger for Heaven–for a day of no partings.

How can the same thing bring such joy and pain? I had been cheering Ben’s on ever since they felt the  call to pull up roots and move to LA. I would have been disappointed if they had not gone. But why did it have to be so far?

Oh, to have the eternal perspective! To live for the then and for Him, not for me and for now! To offer with joy what is most precious to me!