On April 13, 2014, the Expressive Journal Writing Group of Ashland, Oregon gathered amongst the lilac blossoms to explore what it means for ourselves and each other to “Begin Again.” Since September 2013, the group has been using the journal as a vehicle of self-expression and collaborative discovery, so we were very excited to be participating in One City, One Prompt as a way of sharing with others the sharing that happens in the group. As the group facilitator, I read the prompt, telling everyone to write as quickly and fluidly as they could, without stopping to let the internal censor take over and judge what we are writing, but to just let the words come naturally, repeating the prompt if we hit a pause. We wrote in our individual journals for about ten-fifteen minutes on: What is beginning again for you right now? What does it mean for you to Begin Again?
When everyone had reached a completion point, we took turns reading what we wrote while group members jotted down phrases that rang true or were vividly expressed. These phrases were then offered by the group to the writer as positive feedback and validation that gets at the heart of the writing. After everyone had shared their writing, the group called out the phrases from each other’s prompts that had stuck with them, while another group member recorded the phrases down on paper as lines for our collaborative group poem; our shared response to the prompt. The lines to the poem were written as they were called out, with no further editing, and the results were, as always, surprisingly cohesive. Although the poem was comprised of individual lines from several different voices, the poem flowed as one voice. We are a group of private journalers, who left that day feeling the strength of our individual voices as well as the power of the collective voice united as one.
Through my participation with One City, One Prompt, I have been overwhelmed by the positive response from all who come to bear their soul on paper and for the first time, share that soul with other writers. Thank you to all who encouraged and participated, and to all who share in the power of the written word, this is dedicated to you.
Squeeze, a new life is arising
Begin Again with no doubt
Peace is law when we begin again
Remember childlike wonderment
Rays of purple sunsets sinking into shadows
We spiral and spin and coast on the wind
No wait for ready, set, go!
Begin with gratitude, grace, and ease
Begin in any moment, any way you please
What do I need to do to step into exquisiteness?
I remember now
From what I did not know I was scared of
No apologies for slightly grazing my arm as you walk past
We treat our home as if we love it and as if it is a miracle
Beginning again hopefully with what we already learned
Pushing, Pushing, Pushing
It’s all about the journey, anyway
We are beginning again together…