This came in my work email:
This morning I gave the following assignment to my writing group: “What was the favorite gift you have ever either received or given for any occasion (Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary)? Write about it and answer these questions:
What was the occasion?
Who were the players—giver and recipient?
What emotions were felt or expressed?
J.N. from Bird 3 (Salem) answered:
“Liz, my group home manager in Grants Pass, when I spent Christmas there gave pajamas to me for a present. I laugh because I needed P.J.’s. They were navy blue. I could put them on before bedtime and unwind in writing on the computer. They were light and comfortable. I felt like a million bucks in them because it was decades [since] I had a bed, and P.J.’s to sleep in. You see, I had spent years on the streets and I slept anywhere out of the weather. My clothes stayed on me, but my shoes came off when I climbed into the sleeping bag.
When my care-provider gave P.J.’s to me I acted like a child of joy. The smell of new P.J.’s was pleasant. Crisp, fresh P.J.’s were like I was high class. I did thank Liz for the thoughtful gift. She is a wonderful person and considerate. Now, feeling human and high class I wrote better with a new mentality…..Liz [fed] us a balanced diet and shows love in working around the house.
Love for P.J.’s is the tender feeling while nights pass. And I sleep…”
When our patient read this aloud to the class, my eyes filled with tears. What a wonderful expression of thanks flowed from this patient’s pen! There are a lot of things to be sad and disappointed about in our world today, but as you reflect on this story I urge you to consider “Who can I bless with “P.J.’s” during this Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday season?”
Dr. **** ******, Clinical Psychologist
If you have followed this blog you are acquainted with JN and his powerful images, intensely emotional poetry. Of course, he is no longer in the 50 Building- which is now abandoned across the street. He lives in this giant new beast, shiny and deceptive. They rolled up the old hospital and brought it here into a new edifice. Here’s something else-
Understood into self as the clouds drift away
Sun rises to the word of reality with shinning focus
Wind whispers it while awake in the Desert
Mountains’ tree sings it out with a hoot
Rocks roll in the snowy water stream
The birds fly with uplifting wings
Chairs hold you in faithful promise
I absorb it like food for nourishment
Rain falls to the gravities law
Air gives way to breathe of life
Monks hum to it in meditation
Spirit listens in ah while thought is created
Soul will carry it to heaven
God rewards you for understanding
Flowers wilt by it after seeding
A Babies cry with it when born
Believe while doing all things and it will be
Stories are written with the thought of it
Companions make love for a child
Can’t touch it with your hands, but imagination flourishes
Wake- that sun will make it today
Why then doesn’t it happen when we speak?
Truth and lies are from this tongue of ours