Sing Over Me

Every Monday afternoon, in a gray-walled conference room down the hall from The Beacon Day Center, three of our volunteers lead a group of homeless men and women in a writing workshop.

Generally, the workshop starts with a quick review of work completed from the previous session, and then everyone spends 45 minutes writing – anything from poems to essays to novels.

Just being present in the room during writing time is inspirational: heads bowed in firm concentration, the whisper of pencils and pens on lined notebook paper unceasing. Many people say they want to write; few have this kind of discipline.

IMG_5527One of our writers, Michael Crawl, writes deeply inspiring poetry. Most often, he has a pen tucked behind his ear to capture those spontaneous verses that come to mind for a fleeting moment– the same verses that eventually give birth to entire poems.

When I asked Michael if I could publish his work on our blog, he questioned whether it was  good enough – whether it mattered enough for people to read. Many creative types battle self-doubt, but I wonder if it’s especially difficult for Michael to see himself as a poet or an artist. I imagine that facing homelessness, and being labeled as homeless, is such a heavy burden that it has the capacity to eclipse all other sense of self.

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In two weeks, Michael, along with the other BEACON writers, will celebrate the final workshop session of the spring. They’ll each receive a printed anthology of their work, and have the chance to read their favorite selections for BEACON staff and friends.

But, I hope the end-of-workshop celebration is more than that. I hope it’s a reminder to Michael and his classmates that no matter where they sleep, they are writers and artists and poets, and most importantly, children of God. I hope Michael comes to know that his work does matter enough to be read. And I hope his words remind us that homeless doesn’t define a soul.

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