Sticks (and Stones)

A few short weeks ago, after completing Quest with the AmeriCorps St Louis Emergency Response Team (AC STL ERT), we spent a few days in Immersion where we learned the history, culture, and policies of this program.  The last morning there at Little Grassy (the Methodist Camp we were staying at) we were asked to spend some time in reflection, write a letter to ourselves that will be mailed to us at the end of the year, and make our way across the camp to the amphitheater.

On our way there we were asked to pick up a stick that represented who we are, where in the journey we have come to find ourselves, and/or where the road is leading us.

There were sticks of various shapes and sizes from the group as we each took a moment to stand in front of each other and share why we chose this particular stick over all the others in the forest.

As I rose to stand before the group, I held a knotted, bent, broken and decaying stick in my hands.  I didn’t pick out a straight, balanced, or beautiful looking stick, but one that had several branches, knots, and a story to tell.  I didn’t choose a beautiful stick to represent me.  I chose one that was slightly worn, overlooked, and, to be quite honest, ugly.

My journey has had its ups and downs, trials and struggles.  I’ve seen things that I never wished to see, experienced things that are difficult to talk about.  I’ve faced down the darkness of the soul, and yet still carry it within my heart.  I’ve been on many roads (figuratively and literally) and have come to know the good, bad and ugly within myself.

And as I held up that small stick in my hands, I revealed to myself that life is more than finding and embracing the beautiful, but it is also seeking out the worst of our experiences and accepting them, sharing them, and refusing to hide them, to hold them within our hearts.  Life is about embracing the experience we have with those around us.

And that is the beauty of community.

And while that one little stick was quite ugly, there was also beauty in it if you chose to take a closer look.

God Bless and PEACE

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