"I'm Happy. And It Feels Amazing."
This past Sunday, 12 young people arrived for the Project Legacy Circle. Candles were lit, opening was read, and still youth kept arriving. They were Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Atheist. Cambodian, South Sudanese, North Sudanese, African-American, Hispanic. They have been living in cars, sleeping on couches, abandoned by drug-addicted parents. Tears ran silently down the faces of some as they listened to their friends tell their stories and offer hope to others. Some told of 24 months of sobriety, some of 3 weeks.
Last night we gathered again. A new girl came with a friend. Homeless. A's and B's at school. "I saw you at school," she said with a smile..."I kept calling your name but you didn't turn around....and then my friend told me, that's Karen - not Catherine!" Her mother sent her away when she was 16. She arrived from another state to live with a grandmother who didn't want her, either.
I picked up three kids last night. I heard one girl who has been to three Circles say to a new girl..."Are you nervous?"
"A little," she said.
"Me, too. I don't like to talk in Circle.So I just sit and listen. And I pass the talking piece when it gets to me. You can do that. You can pass. I get nervous that people will think I'm stupid."
After a dinner that was shared with the volunteer who cooked for us and the youth worker from Workforce Dept who came to talk about a program the kids could benefit from, we went downstairs for Circle. Zach had already lit candles and arranged the room. I opened with a reading my daughter Rachel had shared with me a few days ago. I picked up the talking piece and asked who would like to start. To my complete surprise, our silent girl, the one who "always passes" - raised her hand and said with a big smile and laugh - " Me!! I want to start! I want to talk!"
"I just want to say that I've never been happy like this before in my life. I want to say that my life is better than its ever ever been. I haven't smoked in I'll say three weeks. I have an apartment and all these volunteers helped me ....that one lady, that volunteer she brought me all this stuff and other people brought me clothes. And I'm starting my job and I'm going to college in January. And Karen, I fixed food. I cooked. And it was cooking and I sat in my own chair and it was peaceful and I just sat there in my little apartment, smelling that food I was cooking and I looked at everything and I just started to cry because I felt like for the first time, it was going to be okay and I'm not alone. And that's what I want to say. This is all I wanted to say....I'm happy . And it feels amazing."