I started this Brave prompt in April of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic. I think we all needed to be reminded of our bravery in the midst of so much uncertainty. And we needed to know that bravery takes on a multitude of shapes and forms. We each wear it differently. We each live it differently. It is within us and all around us, if we have eyes to see it and a willingness to name it when we see it. I fell in love with the first Brave compilation because it created such a nuanced conversation about bravery and each piece that was written was an example of bravery itself. I was deeply moved by each email that I received of someone sharing their words. When it was time to do another prompt I knew I was not done with the Brave prompt. The dream was to make a booklet, but sometimes life happens and you have to shift. And sometimes that shift happens over a year later. The majority of these pieces were written in the summer of 2020. They are powerful to read. They are brave. A few of these pieces have pictures with them that I was unable to transfer over to this platform, but I hope to actually get a booklet together with them included one day soon. As always, thank you to the writers of this compilation. Thank you for trusting me with your words. Thank you for being willing to share your words. Thank you for your bravery. To the readers, thank you for being here. I hope these words and this conversation around bravery reminds you of your own bravery. If someone's words impact you, let them know. Those words can go a long way. I now present you with the Second Brave Compilation. Enjoy my friends. ------------- Note The Way It Was I once was brave. Brave enough that is. Brave enough to share how I felt Only… When it didn’t matter. Electrify The Streets, Toni Hunlo ------------- Brave He left just when they would start having memories When their minds were old enough to recall He left when it started to get fun When their blonde curls started bouncing on their shoulders when they giggled When they started looking up to their older sister He left because he was sick Because he needed to leave Because he couldn’t see past himself Oh much to everyone’s dismay Along the way it became normal Him showing up on his own watch Him reaching out as it fit his schedule I pray it doesn’t become the standard His sickness ebbed and flowed As did his presence Picking and choosing How complicated is a daughters heart for her father How riddled with confusion and contradiction How much can one grant grace, “he’s sick, he’s sick, he’s sick” How much does it confuse her own heart, her own worth It came time for the girls to be recognized Homecoming court beneath the lights But the father escorts them, the father always escorts Their hearts more brave than I can fathom Not giving someone the option To show up in the good times and not the bad They chose their mother to escort them Knowing they would have to face their father who wouldn’t understand Knowing that older people just wanted them to give in - status quo Take the more comfortable route Avoid confrontation Flee from hurting feelings After so many years of their hurt feelings Oh but these girls know their worth They know they are worth every ounce of effort it takes to raise a little girl How brave it is to believe you are worth it How brave it is to live in this way Lindsay Lowery ------------- “Only do what only you can do.” A friend and mentor said this to me a few years ago, and as I sit at my desk and think about bravery, it comes to mind. I have always struggled with wanting to feel valuable. I want to feel like my ideas matter, like I’m making a difference, like the things to which I’m giving my time have purpose. In good times, this plays itself out in embracing leadership, initiating conversations, and challenging those around me. In bad times, it looks like trying to control my surroundings, becoming very passive, and ultimately shutting down while the only words coming from my mouth are “I’m fine.” When it’s not true. I’m learning that bravery is a product of a willing heart, and that in most cases, the recognition and praise I so desire doesn’t come when I choose to be brave. I’m learning that I want to do what I want to do because I think it will make me look good, not because I’m doing it for anyone else. To me, bravery looks like filling the gaps. It looks like doing what you can, because only you can. Because you’ve been given a unique gift that allows you to do whatever it is you need to do. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ And the head cannot say to the feet ‘I don’t need you.’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” - 1 Corinthians 12:21-22 Indispensable. What a warm blanket to my soul. To know that in the moments when I feel weaker than those around me, I still have a purpose, a chance to be brave. For my wife, for my neighbors, for my family, for my friends, for those without a voice, for those who may not recognize their own gifts. Thank goodness for those chances. William Black ------------- There is so much bravery in slowing down – I find the words “no rush” Are always on my tongue Because I want to say “You are worth all the time it takes to get here, there, wherever you want to be”. And it is brave, When they take that time, Acknowledging: “I am worth it, The space, I will take it up.” Alex Washburn ------------- Purposeful stupidity I’ve been teaching myself to skateboard. Just taking laps around a parking deck. Learning how to position my feet to ensure balance. Figuring out the best way to push myself onwards. Wobbly and smiling down the ramp, it’s easy to feel brave. My dad tells me it is a stupid, reckless hobby. Makes me wonder, how often are the two mistaken. Where is the line drawn? Is it brave or stupid to jump off the quarry walls? Is it brave or stupid to go to a protest during a pandemic? Is it brave or stupid to question the beliefs I have been spoon fed? Is it brave or stupid to facilitate confrontation? Is it brave or stupid to move away from my people, my home? But the line has always been blurry. The women and men who make up our history books must have been called stupid so many times before we gave them the title of brave. Doing the unexpected, dangerous, scary, takes a little bit of stupidity and a little bit of bravery. Where is the line drawn? Stupid or brave. Based on purpose? One’s intended end game? The simple use of logic in decision making? I’ll write again once I have solved it all. So maybe skateboarding is stupid. Maybe i’ll break my ankle tomorrow while trying to perfect my left side turns. I won't be sorry for it. I’m intentionally implementing a bit of purposeful stupidity in my life. Trying to train myself to think less. To headlessly say it. Do it. Go there. Things you might tell me is stupid or reckless, but in time, like the history books, may just reveal themselves to be brave. Hailey Lombardi ------------- Fear and love To really kno me is to kno.... I am full of doubt... But I am one who wonders this terrain out of fear and love I fear that what I have for all things will run out For my love to run dry For my voice to not ring For me to fall on my face For my heart to not beat. And I if didn’t fear this I would love for ages My voice will carry for miles I would stand tall And my heart will beat to serve So here I am searching for faith to Love Seeking to drive my spirit with words from the kingdom And shielding away from the words of a death sentenced world We all share walls that will need help rebuilding Regardless of the future, there will be something to credit here before us. You never know the wrath of a storm until it has passed For myself I’ve survived surges and I can’t believe that now the skies are clearing I mean this for myself I must enjoy this sun with or without another silhouette But truly I have room for you beside me. This must be what it feels like to invent, to pioneer, or to discover a new world. ...scared sh!tless but more happy as can be... And These are The STAIRS we must take... Out of Fear And Love Toni Hunlo ------------- NOTES FROM QUARANTINE > Consider what is worth rushing back to < I feel guilty for enjoying this time so much. I needed the rest so desperately When does life ever let you hit pause? Nothing to miss out on— freedom from anxiety (& for this I know I am privileged, but I am still thankful) Who knew this is what I needed? Who knew how much of life I did not enjoy? Yet It also feels empty Knowing there is not much to run back to That people out there are ok without you and you’re ok alone too It makes me want deeper things People I would hurt to be away from Ones that fill me up and let me be And maybe this is all self absorbed But when you see others have it, Do you fight too? As I sit here thankful for nowhere to be I continue to long for what I may never get I read “I can’t miss out on what is meant for me” And I hope that this is meant for me And as the world begins to turn again I will be brave in believing I am worth knowing. Jasmine Badiee ------------- #1 -- ••• Teaching in the Unknown “Father, what have I kept from you?” A dangerous question from a heart yearning for the stability of the Shepherd’s hands. I grasp at my life, desperately trying to hold it together, yet desperately wanting to offer it up. A gentle whisper wakes me in the middle of the night: “This.” I see my classroom. My students, my career, my pride. The fear of the unknown crawls up my throat, threatening to take my breath. How do I win this battle? Paralyzed, I beg: “Fight for me?” I cannot do this alone. Prepare me for the battle, cloak me in bravery. Though I smile and nod, I know that I don’t know. I don’t know what this year will look like. I don’t know what school will look like. I don’t know what next month or next week or tomorrow holds. I’m completely dependent on something so much bigger than me. I put one foot in front of the other. Help me look forward to the future without try to manipulate it, without putting it on my back. Help me see it all through a lens of daily grace. Help me know that you will hold me up when the waves crash down on me. You lift up my chin. Brush my hair with your hands. “My dear, I have never left you.” Oh; take all my love. Take all my life. #2 ••• Bravery is in the Jump ••• Change is a cliff. An impending sense of doom fills and weighs my chest as my toes creep over the edge. I glance down. What will the fall feel like? I look back. Can I step away? But forward is the only option today. I must jump. I wait. Sickened by the dread, I close my eyes, whining: “Why must I?? Isn’t there an easier way?” Blurry vision and angered heart, desperation hardens my will. Who wants to let go of their footing, their perceived safety? Who wants to feel their stomach fly up, to be completely humbled by their lack of control? But forward is the only way today. I fill my mind of images of how horrid the process will be, I convince myself that looking over the edge, fearing the jump, is a better option than the jump itself. So I stand still. Shaking my head at my Creator. “No. I’ll just stay here awhile.” My head swirls, clarity is gone, and I’m not even sure why I’m standing on the cliff anymore. I fall to my knees. “Why am I here?” “You said you wanted stability.” “But this fall isn’t stability?! I’ll lose everything I’ve built. Do you see what I’ve built?” “Have you forgotten? It was me that brought you the stones. It was me that gave you the strength to build. It was me that directed your every step, that gave you every plan. Do you not trust I will help you to build again? Sweet girl, let go. Let go of it all. In fall, you will remember.” I look over the edge once more. Have I built it up in my head again? Is this worth it? I force my eyes to look beyond— An ancient whisper fills my mind: “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and earth.” I jump. I fall. Weightless, worry-less, free. Finally. My head clears. My dread evaporates. I find shelter in the wings of the Most High. I look back up, why did I stand at the edge for so long? Torturing myself over the “what if?” I look back at my Helper, He smiles, knowingly. “Do you trust me now?” I laugh. Isn’t it funny how I say I’ve given my life to Christ, but when it comes time to jump, to risk my pretend safety, I cling to the image of fear I’ve created over the very one who created me? You win, Jesus. You can have it all. No cliff or dread can stand against you, You are the one who catches, the one who provides, the one who holds me up. Melanie Beadles ------------- Brave, Again Called him to see where she was Got the news Wailed in the parking lot Wood chips stuck to my face A curious spectacle for those rejoicing in The survived Blurry hours after that Slept, ate a banana, some clothes Met at the hospital Her mome couldn’t stand So they put her in a wheelchair Her brother couldn't stand But I held him p with weak arms and a weak heart Comforted a whole family for weeks Was asked to sleep in her bed (declined) Filled a temporary hole Had my picture taken Her loss was the beginning of many more Not just the deceased Picked out her blue burial clothes Saw the figure that she left behind clothed In them Sand poorly at her funeral Walked out with the recessional My time of usefulness ran out They cry whenever they see me No longer me, but what could have been Her I took my time and space And grace Became Brave again to mourn another Anonymous ------------- Run-ons and comma splices It's been a few days in the new house, and everything is starting to come together. The new shower curtain that makes the blue-green tile look purposeful, boxes disappearing from the living room and the contents finding homes, the laundry stack shrinking and closets beginning to fill. That first night eating pizza and leftover wedding wine on the back deck, sitting on blankets all together was an omen- a sign- that no matter what pieces were missing- plates, chairs, silverware- it would come together. It would be perfect. I dreamed of married life and it's all how I pictured and nothing how I pictured. You can envision the chores and the house and the tender moments, but you can't expect the overwhelming feeling of being one another's. Worried when he's gone too long, wondering what he's thinking, wanting to be close to make the feelings tangible. Some of it's hard- the little unmet expectations that really make no difference anyway- towels, toilet seats, taking turns. But it's perfect. You can tell that even though it's new, it's exactly what it was always supposed to be. That any other outcome would have been unnatural and wrong. Another life was imaginable, but in the blink of an eye, the exchange of a ring and a simple promise, the image is gone. So, I'm sitting here, drinking coffee on the front stoop while he has his own Quiet Time- a necessity in our old and new worlds- missing him a little as I imagine the newly-wed do, and I'm wondering how to be brave today. What will I do today that matters, that overcomes, that challenges, that explores and ignites. And I decide I will stay. I will remain. I will be steadfast. As the days get shorter, it won't always be as sugary sweet as this day on the front stoop, but I'll stay. Stay here. I'll follow where he goes and stay where he stays. It's a new kind of brave for me, working as a team. But I know through seasons and years and the highs and lows and fun and mundane- it'll come together. It has to, it was always meant to be. When you're better together it's hard to go solo because now you know all that was missing before, and how could you miss out on that again. So I'll stay here, on his team, him on mine, writing run-ons and comma splices that I see as soon as they leave my pen, an English teacher's dirty little secret, to make an attempt to put into words how this new season of "us" just might be my bravest yet. Caroline Black ------------- The truth is, I don’t know how to be brave. I don’t know how to move on And let go of the past few years And start over When it feels like I’ve been building and building this beautiful home for myself here, And now I have to start at the bottom. I don’t like the bottom very much. It’s dark down here, and I’m not up high enough yet To see what’s up ahead. I’m walking around with the lights off, Not knowing which way is up. I don’t know how to not be good. To just try and fail. It’s not my nature to want to change And step outside of what I know. It’s my nature to know and label all of the things around me. To put each thing in its right box, wipe the dust off of my fingers, and rest in a job well done. This year isn’t that. It requires failure. It requires discomfort and change. It requires bravery. And as I look at the empty seats, the whiteboard and the desk at the front, I feel the opposite of brave. I feel such fear. There are so many questions running through my head: Doubts, lies, fear, worries But it all comes back to this: “Can you do this?” “Can you really do this?” And my answer is the same each time. “I don’t know” “I don’t know” “I don’t know” But then I think about how scared I was a year ago. And then four years ago. A fresh page terrifies me, But it has also made me who I am today. And failure, unlike I feared, did not defeat me. It made me better. Wiser. Humbler. More understanding. Human. Sometimes I think bravery is learned. That it means trusting what I have seen to create a world in the future where I’m okay. At least in my own head. But more, I think bravery is this: I look out at an ocean of my own fears. I look out and can’t see what’s right in front of me. I look out. Seeing. Fearing. Hoping. And still, I take a step forward. Still, I show up. Still, in spite of that ocean and the darkness I fear, I am brave today. Caroline Beltrami ------------- She slowly started losing touch. Speaking about aliens, past lives, her psychic abilities, the list goes on. Lots of people believe in such things, but for her, it was different. For her, these beliefs were slowly taking over her life. The voices began. They would tell her to believe things, things that were not really happening. They would tell her to do things, things that she should not do. They would distract her from eating, drinking, living. She was spiraling down as she thought she was spiraling up, so excited about her new powers. She couldn’t really listen to me. She’d talk to me, but she wasn’t really listening; the voices were more interesting, more important. My friend falling deep in ways I didn’t even realize someone could fall. I didn’t know how to help her. She didn’t realize there was a problem. I was scared to upset her. I was scared to do the wrong thing. I was scared for her to realize that this was all a lie. Sometimes it takes an event so big to be brave. Sometimes your fear overrides your decisions for weeks. But then suddenly, it escalates so quickly that you know you must get help. And while you’re on the phone still so scared, you’re asking for help, the brave thing to do. You feel guilty for sending her away, taken against her own will. All the people you talk to keep telling you that you were brave, you did the right thing, you saved her. How can you know you were acting out of bravery instead of fear? How can you be so scared and so brave at the same time? Now, it’s her turn to be brave. As reality is being slowly shoved in her face by doctors, little white pills, and laws requiring her to cooperate, she’s scared too. She’s scared about the things she did, the relationships she lost, where she ended up. Scared of her brain and her thoughts. Scared that she’ll never be the same. I’m scared of that too. More than anything right now, I hope she can be brave. I know she needs me to be brave again too. She needs me to believe she can get better. She needs me to act out of bravery instead of fear. I hope we will be brave for each other. Anonymous ------------- Brave. Most of the time, bravery surprises us and looks different than we expected. Our past experiences and perceptions form what bravery should, shouldn’t, or could be. Maybe it is standing up for yourself or a friend. Maybe it is conquering a big fear. Maye it is taking a leap of faith into something new. While all of these speak truthfully about bravery, I hope we don’t limit ourselves to these ideas. Bravery is better than we think, and what if we gave it the space it needs in our hearts to dig deep and eventually bloom? What would that look like for you? For me, bravery came in the lonely, quiet, simple, and even painful moments. I wanted to take that big leap of faith and conquer that mountainous fear by being “big and brave” like we tell kids, but she met me with a different plan. A wild, new plan that stopped me in my tracks to remind me that maybe the lonely, quiet, and simple moments aren’t so bad after all. They can be where bravery moves in close, finds some footing, and she grows. They can be the beginning of letting something new in. This way, she teaches me to Be rather than only do, Remain rather than only rush, And trust rather than only hope. I am surprised, in the best way, that bravery can be a part of me, rather than something I strive for. It may come from inspirational people, places, and words, but it also comes from a place within. Trust it is there and let it go with you! So, what if we tossed aside our “big and strong” views on bravery to see it in the full light is has for us? What if we let it run wild in our hearts, our thoughts, and even our dreams? I think, if we do, bravery will come much more naturally than we once knew. Jordan Brandy ------------- At the end of the ropes course, there is only one way to get off the course. And that is to jump, trusting that the person below will catch you with the rope. Often people will run through the entire course just to get to this spot and freeze. The early parts are easy, you can rely on the equipment and your own skill to get you through. But at the end you have to put your trust in the person at the bottom to catch you. Letting go of control and putting your trust in someone else is difficult. The most difficult, but I have seen some of the most joyous moments come right after letting go and taking a step of bravery. Anonymous ------------- Here is where I am brave: feet (and mind and body and soul) Firmly planted on the scorched ground Screaming at the sun and moon and stars and gods and ancestors and Life and Death But not expecting a reply. Have we always been brave? No. How could we be, when we are suspended in just the right place at just the right moment in time to experience This. Together. Just like the great waves of the ocean roil and crash and rise and fall and fill our lungs with salt and foam and creatures of the deep, So too do we swell with the greatest heights and sink further beneath the waves than we ever could have feared. That is where we are Brave. Safely cocooned in an abalone shell, ordinary from the outside and extraordinary in all the ways that count inside. Bravery is exploring the cosmos knowing that we may not be alone after all (and once you’ve drifted past the Kuiper Belt, understanding that your feet may never touch scorched ground ever again because all you’ve got is Pluto outside your window). Bravery is finding religion and then losing it in the same breath. It is standing on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain choking on your own oxygen and understanding that there Has To Be More Than This, that There Was Always More Than This. Bravery is finding out you were wrong about all of it: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Bravery is: standing in front of your dusty childhood mirror one afternoon when you visit your parent’s house and finally recognizing the person you were meant to be all along, shrugging off the weight of the world like Atlas like the giants who have come before you like yourself. It is accepting more than cracked earth and silent stars and the vacuum of space because you are the heavenly body made To Be More Than This. There Was Always More Than This. Ellie Cash ------------- I didn’t know how brave I was To let you love me Until you found my wounds And shown a light on them I was terrified and resistant Pushing your tending hands away But you persisted The healing was gentle and strong I didn’t know how brave you were To love me Until I felt how it mended me While you made it look easy You were certain and unshaken Moving in closer despite my fight And you won My life completely changed by it The bravery of a simple and deep love… Kelly Saunders ------------- (There is a picture that goes with this piece) There is an annual celebration of street art in Denver where artists from all over come to bring art onto the streets instead of in galleries. This woman chose to recreate some of the letters her stalker had written her. These letters are now on a wall for anybody and everybody to see. This woman is unbelievably brave for sharing her art and letters with the world. Lindsay Magill ------------- To the brave friend- who stayed when many others left or hid, who continuously chose love when it was almost impossible, who picked me up over and over when I was heavy, You Are Brave. you welcomed my brokenness as something beautiful, you allowed space for my emotions and words to run out, you opened your life to mine, You Are Brave. i was lost, but you helped me find my way, i was resistant, but you waited with me, i was hopeless, but you reminded me of truth, You Are Brave. you are brave for all of this, for going the lengths and depths with me, but most of all, you are brave for being You despite the fight, weight, fear, and tears. you courageously stayed true to you, and you helped me be brave enough to do the same. Jordan Brandy ------------- I’ve had a lot of transition within the last year, but I could have not. I chose these changes. I wrestled with these decisions, prayed, cried, struggled because I knew what I’d have to leave behind.There is grief in change, even when you know it pushes you forward. It takes immeasurable courage to push forward. We celebrate this bravery in one another constantly, honoring the work performed to produce results that we believe are needed, good, just: the work that ultimately spurs progress. Deciding upon and working towards change takes immeasurable courage. I remind myself of this repeatedly, in my quiet moments, in my moments where the change is so loud it’s deafening. My mom called me a strong and powerful force last summer. I own that phrase as I march on. I hold on to this truth. I chose my change for a reason. I hold on to this truth. But I’m learning there is also bravery in recognizing and acknowledging the pain in the loss that is married to change. Even when you choose it. To grieve is to understand that what is gone meant something and to simply and innately miss something because it no longer exists. We cannot have progress without it, but a recognition of this pain paints a picture of what it’s like to be human. To be uncomfortable when things look different. To love and to lose. To love despite the possibility of loss. To feel all ranges of emotion. We cannot separate ourselves from this reality, so why not be brave and grapple with it when it’s here? There is freedom in making change, but perhaps there is even more in allowing yourself to grieve your losses in the in between. There is beauty in this duality. I hold on to this truth. AS ------------- (There is a picture that goes with this piece) Have you ever heard Daniel the Tiger’s “With a Little Help You Can Be Brave”? It’s a bop. Watch out tho it’ll get stuck in your head for days. Especially when your niece is constantly singing it. This is my niece. She is constantly singing this song under her breath when she is trying something new. Nothing new about donuts but you get the idea. I’m very black and white so bravery to me looks like an inspirational story of brotherhood in the army, doing something new and scary for the first time, or choosing something for someone else over yourself. My niece doesn’t understand bravery, yet, in its fullest form like most of us do. But she’s also not a black and white thinker. So she sings this song to me day in and day out. It forces me to think about the bravery that persists in the daily emotions, movements and theatrics of life. Daniel the Tiger teaching life lessons to children is the greatest place to learn about bravery. Becca Davis ------------- (There are pictures that go with this piece) New I always say that I like the change and detest routine and get bored with the typical and then a new year starts and my mind and body do not match i love this change i love this newness i would never want to know what the next hour holds is what my mind says my chest is tight i cant breathe very well and my spiral is not tightly coiled my body and my mind does not feel brave most of the time i somehow brought my gold broken key necklace that says "strength" on it, all the way from colorado to georgia it's funny that it broke it's funny that anyone thinks i am strong I thought in my mind yesterday "perhaps it is best if i don't write for awhile." what else is there to write about now? i moved away from everything without closing any doors except i did close all the doors just not in the way i would've I claim to hate routine and yet my mind delves into the routine of this spiral shell i call my home and that i call normal and no, it is not normal but i am here far away and it is brave and it is new it is brave. it is brave. it is brave. I'm allowed to say that it is brave. "it's just you and me, Newman." it's not just me and Newman but I think I'll need to keep saying that to feel brave. I'm allowed to feel brave. Joybeth Sullivan ------------- For some reason, I have been stumped for months now to write about bravery. When I think about the word, it’s hard to really express what the word means. Instead of a “definition,” moments of bravery that I have witnessed flood my mind. The moments when I watch the people around me display boldness and a willingness to step out of their comfort zones. The moments that stand out to me, as I think “I’m so proud of them for doing that” because I know that it might have been uncomfortable. A student speaking up for their friend against bullies. A friend walking up to a podium to speak at her mom’s funeral. A young 18 year old moving across the country for college, entering a new chapter of life and not knowing anyone. An eight year old singing in front of a crowd of over 500 people. A leader confidently speaking up for what they believe in, despite the fear of others not agreeing. A 22 year old traveling the world for a year to serve others and live out a calling on her life. These days, it is so easy to conform to this world. To stay quiet. To hide behind a screen. To be content. To not challenge things. Yet, I am so thankful for the brave people around me that step out and are unafraid of being different from everyone else. They’re the people that are truly making a difference in this world. Let’s choose to be brave! Morgan Maier ------------- I’m stuck. staring at a blank mind with blank thoughts only capable of creating a blank page. I keep writing and erasing and editing and writing and now I just scratched my whole poem because “BRAVE”. Is it as enamoring as it sounds? I hope it is. Look at her. See how strong she is. How utterly fearless. See how she runs through the storm untouched. unafraid. I want to be her. But then what? Someone calls you brave and for a moment, maybe- for a moment- you feel like you are. Maybe you feel like you are until you look around and you’re the girl running. running. running. the only girl running. and you're untouched. but you’re alone. I don’t feel so brave anymore. Oh Lord, teach me how to dance in the rain. and in my tears. Let me be touched by the cries of our broken world. because to be untouched, is to be unknown. alone and unchanged. and I need to be changed, to be washed over and over by His water of abundant grace. teach me to be a child so enamored by the bravery of her savior, who forgives. And loves even me. The girl tired from running alone. Give me that love. The only brave thing that can sustain us. Maddie Olsen ------------- Bravery: according to me Bravery is… Trying new things Skating down a massive hill Saying no to things that make you feel cruel Saying yes to things you love Loving yourself Being authentically you Rolling the windows down Singing loudly to yourself Traveling alone Starting new adventures Branching out Trying new foods Treating yourself Eating alone Not caring what other people think Being satisfied with yourself Stepping on a scale Throwing the scale out the window Loving your own skin Being okay being alone Fighting back Seeking justice Loving others Helping people Reading aloud to other people Writing poetry alone Acknowledging your mistakes Apologizing when you’re in the wrong Showing emotions Getting angry Crying when your sad Crying when your happy Not smiling on demand Smiling because you can’t help it Making new friends Keeping old ones Calling your significant Reaching out to your mom or dad Appreciating the cloud shapes & colors Surviving the day Telling someone you love them Leaving things behind when it’s toxic Standing up for injustice Being a voice to the voiceless Stopping to smell the flowers Choosing yourself Chapel White ------------- (There is an incredible art piece that goes with this piece) A Letter To My Feelings Dear feelings, I am so sorry for always apologizing for your presence. You are all so beautiful and worth fighting for, but you also terrify me. Forgive me for always trying to hold you back from being yourselves and truly living. You are all so unique and I guess it scares me when you disagree with each other. But by ignoring your disagreements I have been hindering your growth. Even though I fear you sometimes, I will fight for you. Even though I don’t want to hear what you have to say sometimes I respect you enough to listen anyway. I give you room to be yourself and I will process what you’re saying to me. This also means I may not agree with you sometimes and that is okay. We can’t always have our way in this life. But even if I disagree with you I will always fight to let you live and be yourselves. Be patient with me because I’m trying to find the courage to fight. I will find it though. Feel free to bother me until you feel heard fully. I hope that we can be honest with each other. I hope we can listen to each other fully and respect what each other has to say even if we do not agree. I am so for you. Again, I’m sorry for all times I wasn’t for you. Your greatest fan and protector, Liz Lizzie Sockwell ------------- When the grasses turn from lush green to pale nude – dead and Dying, willfully submitting to the invisible winds, no matter their force. All This time I’ve been searching for my backbone, knee deep in the thistle and wheat, perfect Circles embossed on my cheek from the binoculars; proof of my undeniable desperation. (It’s always been a pale piece of brush, crunched under my toes – must’ve broken on my foot’s way down). She said my love is overwhelming so I gave it space while she kissed my neck and the Nerves on the soles of my feet lit up like fire ant bites, informing me of their existence - similar to how they do when I think of that one piece of hair that can never seem to stay put, tucked behind your right ear (my left). The burn in my eyes filling my mouth with the taste of you. (Or chocolate covered espresso beans rather, since I will never know what you actually taste like. I imagine its comparable). Space? What is space? With a toothpick spine and this gargantuan mass of a love. How could I be farther? Orbiting my own existence with no plans to land – no manual or diagram. Watching from a neighboring galaxy as somehow knees bend and lungs fill; eight feet from a dumpster fire With no recognition of the flame, no awareness of my own blistering skin. (As it turns out fire extinguishers are much less powerful than we imagine them to be at age five, always needing more than they alone can offer). Who would’ve thought I’d feel my body again for the first time in months on a bare male chest? The warmth sending a shock through my entire circuitry – calling each of my skin cells back to Earth, consciousness still locked outside. His unmoving sternum undetectably draped in pale, Unmoving grasses (limbs). Fused to olive skin with the unmistakable paste of holy land. (I forgot to take my allergy pill this morning - maybe that’s why I can’t breathe). Sami Lucas ------------- Bravery Letters Today's the day I'm brave enough to write my story down but please forgive me ahead of time for how the words come out To my sisters - I am sorry For everything I said I see it now, we were just kids suffering in separate beds We grew up in a perfect home from the outside looking in but we heard the fights those long winter nights in walls so paper thin To my parents - I've much to say thoughts running through my head I fear one day that you'll be gone & I'll have words unsaid I thought you didn't love me and I was all to blame so I made friends with Shadows & ghosts and tried to run away I spent my twenties blaming you and maybe that's allowed Finally I'm feeling things I'm feeling them out loud To my friends - I love you so for walking towards the light in hopes that I would follow you out of my endless night And to my God, my Jesus the one who saved my life who brought me out of darkness into His glorious light I am forever grateful you've always been with me you call me child, beloved one ENOUGH. CHOSEN. WORTHY. E ------------- Digging “Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.” Shovel in hand, You make your way out To the earth-spot. You feel the blisters Begin to smart on the handle. Your skin is Opened Ground. You’ve been digging for days, Months. But you feel different from when you started. You started timidly, Unable to give the shovel a good push. When you arrive, you get to work. Your muscles feel sore but strong, Capable. Your hands feel tattered and useful, Connected to your body. You don’t quite know what you’re digging for, But you know that digging is brave. You know that the digger is unafraid of the underneath, of the buried things being exposed to the sun. So you dig. For yourself. For all the parts of you That got lost in the dirt, All the fossilized time between then and now. The ground loosens. Between my own two hands The shovel rests. I’ll dig with it. Maggie Dryden ------------- One more piece still coming, so stay tuned!