leaders of the soul

When we moved into our home there was an army of pines next door

Soon the lot was cleared to build a home

one tree remained

It teetered on the line

Nobody knew to whom it belonged

A homeless tree

It leaned at an annoying angle promising to fall

It’s needles stain the drive and it’s fruit clutter the lawn

We debated sending it away

Then the storm came

It should have fallen

It was weak

We didn’t value it

BUT

The wind and rain somehow made it new

No longer near failure

Now tall and strong

How can this be?

Look around

It’s not just the trees

There are some among us that were broken before the storm

They had little to lose yet still lost it all

Look to them now

They know how to live

They always knew and never forgot what we are now forced to remember

These people are easy to spot

They are calmer than most

More content than they should be

They have nothing yet their concern is for those with less than themselves

They are leaders of the soul

They know how to pick up the pieces

It’s what they have always done

Look to them now

They will lead us

And they will bring us home

Jason

#850strong

pink snow

 

The day we emerged from our hiding places the sky was grey

A shade I’d never seen before

A shade I don’t want to see again

Doors opened cautiously

Hands went to pockets finding only useless bricks

The next day she emerged with a working one

The only one on the street

She let us make that vital call

I had not cried until I heard my mother’s voice

The relief
The fear
The joy

All came through the broken lines

Our tears mixed

Each day since the sun has shone

BUT

Today the grey came back when I got the word

I didn’t know you as well as I wish I had

Much like the neighbors that are now becoming friends

BUT

I do remember your eyes

Dark eyes that had seen so much

I only remember seeing you one time off campus

Some city festival

You were with a beautiful woman and a young child in a stroller

I saw you a few weeks ago in a meeting

You didn’t speak much

That was often true

When you spoke your words were rich with

compassion
wisdom
patience

I saw an old photo of you

So handsome

Like the guy on my favorite childhood cop show

You held a beautiful baby girl

Her hair was long and light

In another photo you were dusted with a light snow

Like the snow shoveled today from so many homes

Pink snow

As I drove home I was passed by countless cars with flashing lights

Red and blue

Racing by

I wondered how many times you had been the racer

The snow
The lights
The extra boxes by the street

At first glance you might think it was Christmas

Your loss is a heavy wound

A reminder that though the trees are few
we are not yet out of the woods

Thank you for your years of service as

law-enforcement officer
teacher
colleague

I know your family has suffered an immeasurable loss

A double wounding

It seems your life ended the way you lived it

Helping others

Thank you for the example of service

Godspeed, brother

Hope to see you on the other side

Jason

#850strong

it’s just stuff. they are just things

“It’s just stuff. They are just things.”

True.

BUT…

For many, the loss of the physical is not what is being mourned. It is the loss of what that stuff and those things represent, the powerful symbolic and deep emotional meaning held within those items.

For many, a house is more than wood and brick.

It is a safety.
It is independence.
It is privacy.
It is sanctuary.
It is memory.

The wind.
The water.
The trees.

These three robbed more than items. They stole more than stuff. Those items were oft endowed with deep and profound personal meaning.

We go to museums to see artifacts and relics of the past. To learn of life’s lived.

What would be placed in the museum of your life?

What pieces tell the story of you?

A small black and white photo of your father’s father’s father?

The stuffed toy you were given by a friend in the hospital when you battled an illness that you feared would take you from those you love?

The flag that draped the coffin of your son? It was handed to you by crisp white gloves with such care it had to be made of fragile glass.

The table that you gather at for one special meal late in November each year? The same table you sat as a child. The same table your mother sat as a child. The table you now seat your own child.

The old vhs cassettes of family trips that you always wanted to covert to DVD?

Your old car? It was old, but it got you to work. A job you loved. A job that is gone.

And on.

And on.

And on.

These are things. This is stuff, but they are also so much more.

With time, the structures will be rebuilt. The items will be bought again.

BUT…

The loss of that which we can’t see is so much greater than what we can see.

Tread with care. There is more than trash at the side of the road.

There are broken dreams and shattered hopes under those heavy limbs.

BUT…

With great loss we also find great love.

The smallest act of kindness now has more power than it did a week ago.

The new stuff, is being endowed with a new meaning.

The meaning of….

Love
Sacrifice
Hope
Possibility

The wind changed the landscape. It also has the power to change us. I hope it changed me.

Tragedy and loss have the power to remind us of what we already know to be true.

People
Relationships
Love

Today is a new day. A day in which you have an opportunity to change a life and have your life changed.

Be well and walk with care. I hope to see you soon.

Jason

#850strong

the show will go on

The only thing more powerful than this storm is the LOVE and COMMUNITY and ART that will rise from the rubble. It’s already begun. #850strong #justyouwait

I just sent the below message to the cast and crew at Gulf Coast State College Theatre and I wanted to share it with you.

Dear cast and crew

l hope this finds you safe. I know many of you won’t have the ability to read this for some time thanks to our new friend Mike and former friend Verizon, but I also know many of you have been thinking and wondering about the show. I also know that many of you still have much more urgent matters to deal with and please know your safety and basic needs are top priority, but I also wanted you to know that THE SHOW WILL GO ON

However….

Maybe not with the full original cast/crew
Maybe not in the same venue
Maybe not with the same title
Maybe not in the same format
Maybe not with all the same words
Maybe…..

ART has the ability to give expression to the things in life that are the most complex.

The most simple.
The most true.
The most contradictory.

My fav director, Anne Bogart says for her theatre begins when there is a contraction between what we are seeing and what we are hearing.

For me, I want theatre to make me feel something. Make me learn something. Challenge me. Move me. Those things have been all too real this week. One of the reasons we tell stories is to remember. Theatre is storytelling.

I think we have a tremendous opportunity here to help our community. A special kind of help that does not include chainsaws and relief trucks, though I am surprised how many theatre skills come in handy as part of disaster recovery. More on that later….

We have a different kind of work to do.

We can tell our story.

The story of our community.

So, what should you be doing now while we are literally scattered to the wind?

First, take care of yourselves and your families. If you need help, dont be afraid to ask. If you can help, don’t be afraid to help.

Your other job is to see.
Really see.
Be with people.

Share with them.

Talk to them.

LISTEN to them.

Scavenge for hope.

Be a vessel for love.

Glean what you can from this interruption to your routine. Write. Sing. Draw. Photo. Dance. Journal.

Glean.

If you are like me you have seen and done things in the last week that people would not believe if we put it on stage or screen.

Record those images and feelings.

Bottle the fear.

Embrace the kindness.

Express the pain.

Release the tears. All the different kinds.

Our show was scheduled to be fine.

Forgettable even.

BUT…..

Reports now suggest a new show is just offshore gathering tremendous power and fuel.

The only thing stronger than Michael is the power of what is to come. I can see it. I can feel it.

Be well.

Hope to see you soon.

-Jason-

#850strong