On the Path of Life


On the Path of Life

It was an ordinary path: pavers on top of coarse sand, a nice basket weave pattern, edged by other, longer stones. The gray stones mirrored the sky, on this cold day, hardly noticeable to most everyone using it on the breaks between classes.

He’d wanted to do something special, and bring some beauty into this utilitarian place, adding his own special touch.

We found some thyme plants in an herb bed. They’d done well this past year, and the little rooted new plants in that tangle of pungent leaves and stems came out of the dirt easily. Today, his idea was happening; it was time to start.

He told me what he wanted, a little plant in each sandy triangle, where the pavers came to the edge of the path.

“Don’t we need more dirt?” he asked.

I didn’t think so. Thyme grew well in harsh conditions, and the roots still had soil attached, the sand along the path wasn’t’ very deep, and was laid on top of the dirt of the old lawn, before it became a path.

“It’s tough stuff, grown from hardy plants which can survive summer heat, drought, and getting stepped on,” I said. “Just like you.”

He grinned and nodded.

We had talked about his life, the chaos before he came here, how he endured fists and drunken rages, his soul battered by neglect and abuse, how he learned to hurt others, and ended up here.

“I’m doing great here,” he told me. “Best place I’ve ever been.”

This is prison, I thought. There’s a tall fence, with barbed wire, not a hundred feet away. Guards roam and surveillance cameras look down on our path, where we’re setting in our little thyme plants, giving them and the young men here a fresh start in what looks like a tough place to grow.

He nodded at me, looking deep into my eyes.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “Me saying prison is the best place I’ve lived.”

“But, you know, this is the first place I’ve felt safe, where I’ve been able to go to school every day, and get some good help on growing up, becoming a man,” he said.

There had been a neighbor, and a kind teacher in his life, people who’d taken an interest in him, feeding him dinner and giving him a couch to spend the night on when things at home got crazier than usual.

“They gave me hope,” he said. “A sense of feeling that I was worth something, that I could change my life, if I wanted to.”

He’d never forgotten them, and the idea that he was, deep down, a good guy, someone who could move ahead and be someone who was decent and kind.

We kept planting the little plants, each of us taking an edge of the path, working our way down to the other end, side by side.

The late winter sun took the chill out of the air, and we paused to take off our sweatshirts. A few drops of sweat ran down our faces, and we laughed about working up a sweat on this February day.

“It feels good to laugh,” he said.

I agreed, telling him I was admiring his project, that we were making the pathway a refuge from the daily routine.

“The rest of the guys, they’ll enjoy the path more,” I said. “They’ll notice the plants and smell the thyme, and they’ll have a moment of beauty in their lives as they walk along here.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I’d thought about that, when I came up with this idea, and ran it by the garden teacher. She thought it was a great idea.”

“Even if the guys don’t say something about the path, it will still be part of their lives, part of their experience here,” he said.

This path, and the beauty he’s creating here, will also be part of his life, I told him. He was making a difference, changing lives, and teaching people about love.

We’d come to the end of the path, and paused, letting our muscles stretch and the sweat on our faces dry. We stood up, looking back, taking in all the new plants, and how the path looked different now, with its new design of green among the pavers, the faint smell of thyme fresh in my nose.

“You are a creator, making this corner of the world just a little better place to live and grow in,” I said.

“Thanks for doing this, for being an artist and brightening up this path for everyone,” I said.

“Thanks for helping out,” he said. “And for being a friend.”
He got quiet, looking down at the path, and the work we’d done this morning.

“It’s everything I’d hoped for,” he said.

—Neal Lemery 2/23/2016

Pruning Time


The days are growing a little longer, and I contemplate the coming of spring, with its promise of new growth, new beginnings, and, with work, an abundant harvest.

A few days ago, the sun was out and it was time to prune my little apple orchard. With newly sharpened and oiled pruners, I ventured out, soon shedding my sweatshirt and enjoying the physical work and the satisfaction of making the foundation for this year’s apple harvest.

I pruned out the dead branches, the branches that crossed each other and rubbed in the wind, and the few limbs that were diseased. Then I topped the scraggly branches that won’t produce fruit. I didn’t hold back, pruning and cutting with vigor, as I shaped the orchard into tidiness, preparing the trees for a healthy summer of apple production.

Where there was chaos, I brought order, and cleaned things up, making for a bountiful year in this corner of our land.
A nice pile of trimmings grew, bound for my friend, the fisherman, who welcomes my annual gift of apple wood for his smoker. One man’s discards are another man’s treasure.

As I went about my work, I felt my shoulders twinge from this new work of muscles and joints, gone soft from an idle winter in the house watching the cold rain fall. The sun felt warm on my pale skin, and I contemplated the smile of my friend as he thought of all the salmon he could smoke with my gift.

There will be many gifts from all the pruning: healthier apple trees, more apple pie filling, apple butter, and cider for next winter, a springtime of trees loaded with pink blossoms, and a summer of vigorous, healthy trees growing a new crop of fruit.

My friend will do his own magic with the prunings, and create mouth-watering smoked fish, putting smiles on more faces.

There were other lessons in the pruning; how cutting back, taking out our dead and dying wood, and opening our branches to the bright sunshine will bring bigger, juicier fruit to our lives.

Old thoughts, and old ways of doing things need to be looked at, with newly sharpened pruners in my hand. If I want a vigorous tree to grow, or a bountiful harvest, I need to think of the pruning that would move my life in the right direction.

The young men in my life are pruning their orchards now, with newly sharpened tools and a fresh determination to transform their lives. They are looking at their past, and their dreams, and finding the directions they want to go. Dead wood and dis-ease are being cut away, and their trees are being reshaped and thinned. Only the vigorous branches remain, with the promise of abundant and fertile blossoms to emerge in the springtime of their youth.

Old ways of thinking are being evaluated. New paths and fresh thinking are being explored, and they are moving ahead; their minds always challenging and testing. Boys are turning into healthy, thoughtful young men; the best type of crop to raise.

They are learning about their emotions, finding names for feelings and thoughts, figuring out how to live with themselves and with others as healthy young men, with clear, focused minds.
I prune my apples every year. I expect my young friends to find their pruners and tree saws, too, and also tend to their orchards. My task is to show them the way, teaching them to be good orchardists for their own lives.

It is a lifelong challenge, this living with one’s emotions and feelings. Like good farmers, they tend their fields and pay attention to their crops, and weathering the storms that roll in, bringing new challenges and opportunities.

They say they learn from me, but I also learn from them. Their courage and determination reinvigorates me, in my journey through this life. They make me a better farmer, a better caretaker of my own orchard. Because of them, my harvest is more abundant and sweeter.

–Neal Lemery 1/29/2016

Sharpening Our Tools


There’s always a lesson for me in the garden, especially when I’m the teacher.

The young men gathered around the table, looking at me, leery about the day’s agenda. The pile of our trusty and well-used pruning shears, weeding forks, and trowels, and my odd assortment of files, oil cans, rags and steel wool was raising some puzzled looks.

“We’re going to sharpen our tools,” I said. “And that will make us better gardeners.”

I talked about dirt and grit, and how dull, rusty tools slow us down, and make our work harder. I talked about rain and damp, and getting rid of rust with a bit of oil wiped on a newly cleaned surface.

“If you take care of your tools, they will last a lifetime,” I said. “It’s a great gift to yourself.”

I talked about how pruners work, whether anvil or bypass, and why the blades are different. I picked up a file, showing them how to hone a blade, bringing out the edge. Doing a good job was all in how you finished it, by gently taking off the burrs on the edge, bringing out the best of the blade, and ourselves.

The metaphors were not lost on these young men, struggling to remake their lives, and move on to managing their lives in a decent, productive way.

I showed them how to do the work, and then urged them to pick a tool, and do their magic.

“The right tool for the right job,” I said, echoing my grandfather’s wisdom I’d heard when I was a young man.

Curious, eager minds asked dozens of questions, and, again, I showed them how to hone the blades, taking their eager hands into mine, helping them grip the file and set to work.

They found their way, getting a sense of that feel, of file meeting blade, steel against steel, until the newly bright edges met their standards of completion and excellence. Rust and dirt were buffed away, and a new coat of oil made hinges and springs smooth and silent. Grime and dirt were banished, the young hands feeling how they brought back the life and beauty of the tools they’d used this past year.

One young man kept doing it differently, missing what I was trying to teach. I was gentle with him, explaining everything again and again. I felt my patient grandfather in me, as I took his hand and the file, and began the lesson again.

Uncertain frowns gave way to smiles and shared accomplishments, the pleasure of making something as good as new. I saw young men restoring something to its original good purpose, gaining pride in who they were, and knowing what they could do.

We sharpened all of our tools today, and we sharpened some lives, too. I sensed my grandfather’s arm around me, holding me tight, whispering how proud he was of how I sharpened my tools.

–Neal Lemery 1/23/2016

The New Year Comes


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The new year is almost here. I’m ready for a change, to go with the new calendar on the wall. Soon, there will be a new month, a new year, and the rest of winter. But, I’ve been adrift, not quite able to put words to this feeling, this restlessness for looking at life in a new way, with new words.

A new friend and I meet, sipping coffee milkshakes, as he tells me of his life and his hopes for the future. He is full of optimism, and hope for a new beginning. His life is changing, much for the better, as he distances himself from chaos and anger, to curiosity and new vocabulary.

He thinks I’m wise, and I can teach him much. Truth be known, he is my teacher, my spiritual guru today. Like him, I need to free myself from old patterns, old demons, and look ahead. I need a new vocabulary, and fresh eyes to see the world unfolding before me.

“I want to explore so much,” my friend says.

I could easily define him as a failure, a cast off, for something he did several years ago. His family has rejected him, and society has sent him to prison.

He’s a prisoner, I thought, but really, he’s free now. He’s been released, and can now truly live his life. One person’s idea of prison is another’s university of life.

A paradox. Yet, he feels free now, for the first time, to be who he wants to be, to stretch himself and move ahead in his life.

For the first time, he is with people his own age, making friends, going to school, and learning to write. He’s waking up every morning in a place where he is not beaten, screamed at, or kept away from the world. He’s escaped from the darkness of his family’s chamber of horrors, and has come into the light, joining the world as a real person.

He searches for words to express himself, and the words for his waves of emotion, all new to him. This coming year is a new beginning for him, a gift to be opened and cherished, with words and emotions he has never known before.

We discover we are both gardeners, in every nuance of the word. Like me, he’s browsing the seed catalogs, and placing his order, dreaming of the coming springtime, where one plants and brings forth new life. He yearns to nurture the garden of his own soul.

“Who am I?” he asks.

“Anything you want to be,” I reply. “You can choose now. The world is yours to explore.”

And, not just for him, I realize. It is my choice, too. I, too, am in this world, and I also can make those choices and have those opportunities. We are both gardeners and poets, thinking of spring.

And we are both prisoners, of our thoughts, our old perceptions of the world and how we fit into the mold of what others expect of us, how they think we should act and think.

Like my buddy, I too can be free, and move on towards the coming newness and freedom of the new year, and be who I really want to be.

12/28/2015
Neal Lemery

Growing Our Garden


 

 

On Fridays, I garden. I drive down the road to a community garden, ready for a morning of planting, weeding and, often, harvesting.

I join a group of young men, and we set to work. Together, we tackle our list of chores and get the jobs done. I work up a good sweat, my muscles get tired, and we add a few smudges of dirt to our faces. We laugh, sharing the simple joys of a day in the garden.

We take a break and look at what we’ve accomplished. Every week brings new projects, and fresh results.

We surround ourselves with all the elements of a healthy garden.   We make sure we use substantial and complex soil, rich fertilizer, fresh air, sunshine, water, and tender care. Each plant gets its own place in the garden, and is encouraged to flourish. If there is a need for water or fertilizer or a little pruning, we are quick to respond, doing our work in nurturing and care taking.

The plants look great, but we’ve really been growing healthy young men.

And these young men flourish. They get the attention and care they need. They find their place in our work, and are encouraged to send their roots down into the soil. They open themselves to the warmth and sunshine we all share. They are hungry for this work, and eagerly take on their roles in raising chickens, planting seeds, in the designing and building of raised beds, compost bins, and trellises. They learn to plan their projects, to plant and harvest. Over the fire, they cook a meal from the vegetables they have grown, tasting and savoring what their hands have grown in the dirt, nourishing themselves with what they have grown.

They become connected to the earth, and the food that they eat. The garden sunshine brightens their lives and feeds their souls. They build community in their work and by their conversations around the campfire.

For many of them, this is their first experience at growing things, and in being caretakers. They become gardeners, not just of their community garden, but of their own lives. In their work, they make the connection between this work and the work they are doing to rebuild their lives, growing into healthy young men.

We do this work behind a prison fence, yet there are freedoms here these young men have never had. They grow here, encouraged to find themselves, and to see themselves as more than men scarred by the traumas and poisons of troubled, directionless childhoods. This is a place of new beginnings, new opportunities. Old wounds are healed and they can move ahead, becoming healthy men.

I treasure the simple moments, the quiet, one-on-one time with a young man, as we plant a flower box, or weed the potatoes, slice some tomatoes, or pick and shell some beans. Just a couple of gardeners, but so much more goes on here, more than the eye can see.

Sometimes, we sit around the campfire, cooking some food, toasting a marshmallow or roasting a hot dog, or just reflecting on what we’ve done in the garden. Soon, stories are being told, experiences shared, observations made. Guys being their true selves, deepening their friendships, and talking about their growing strengths and talents. They are farmers talking about their crops, and how they are making some improvements, tending their crops, growing their lives.

I’m the old man in this crowd, the guy with the gray hair, who just shows up and offers a helping hand, maybe a word or two of advice. I like to be quiet, taking it all in, letting them take the lead in whatever we are working on, watching them ask their questions and talk out the solutions, finding answers.

They need to be in charge here, the gardeners of their own garden. Part of our harvest is growing strong leaders, people who can take charge of their own lives, and make their own way in life.

They come up to me, wanting me to notice their work. They ask me questions, seeking my advice, and not just about gardening.

They are hungry young men, hungry for attention, for someone to affirm them, and recognize them for the goodness they hold inside of themselves. I show up, say good morning, and ask them how they are doing. We work together, as farmers and as life long learners of how to live a good, productive life. The other adults at the garden do that too, and the young men respond with smiles, their eyes sparkling with enthusiasm.

We take time to measure our harvest, counting and weighing our produce, admiring the beauty and abundance of what the boys have grown.

Yet, there is more to the harvest than all the tomatoes and corn, chicken eggs and dried herbs. I count the smiles and the looks of pride and confidence I see in their faces. These young men have grown this summer in so many ways than what we see in their vegetables and flowers.

Their strength and their resilience shine in their faces today, and their newfound abilities to grow their own lives is the real essence of the harvest of our garden.

 

 

–Neal Lemery 9/14/2015

The Spiritual Samaritan


“A spiritual Samaritan lives knowing that if we were to leave this world tomorrow, we were the best humans we could be and we touched the lives of as many souls as possible. We are not asked to be perfect. We are asked to make a difference.” —Molly Friedenfeld

“You mean I’m not perfect?”

Not by a long shot. But, then, maybe I’m too hard on myself, too self critical. I make mistakes. I don’t get it right the first time, or even the second or third.

After all these years, I’m still trying to accept my humanness, my continuing ability to not get things perfect the first time, or ever. I keep learning, I keep trying. I plug away, sometimes one step at a time.

My stubbornness gets in the way, too. Being wrong isn’t always the answer I accept willingly, so I don’t always learn very well, and stay on the wrong path. Perhaps smarter people would have figured it out long before I do, and change their approach, trying a different method, one that has a much better chance of success.

Or, I procrastinate, simply not taking on the task and doing the work.

“Later,” I tell myself. “I have other things to do now.”

But, later comes around and the task still sits there, at the top of my to do list, waiting for me to get around to it. I know waiting won’t make the task easier, but I still do my dance, avoiding what needs to be done.

Maybe it will go away. But, it usually doesn’t. What’s left undone still hangs over me, uncompleted, calling me to get it done. Just do it.

But, I often don’t.

Again, I realize I’m not perfect. The cycle repeats, and, once again, I beat myself up, thinking that I am a failure. I’m not perfect. But, I am pretty good about beating myself up, reinforcing my human trait of not getting it right, making more mistakes.

So how do I know when I’m moving forward in life, when I am actually getting something done? I look around me, seeing if things have changed, if I am making a difference.

And, in the end, that is the real question. Am I making a difference? Am I changing someone’s life?

When it comes to people, seeing if I’m making a difference isn’t always tangible. Helping others out, helping them move on in their lives, giving them the encouragement to see their own talents, and to go out and live their own dreams, isn’t easily measured.

Yet, there’s progress. People are moving ahead, taking charge of their lives, and finding the courage to live their dreams, and not be caught up in the past, not judging themselves, again and again for what they did a lifetime ago.

People change, and people find the courage inside of themselves to move ahead, embrace new values, and to live their dreams.

I hear many stories, many tales of success. Conquered fears, dreams realized, real change. People find their courage, and they are moving ahead.

I’m making a difference with myself, as well. I need to take stock of who I am, and who I am becoming. My task is to realize what I’m capable of, seeing that I have ambition to get something accomplished. Yes, I have my own fears and doubts, but I know I can face them, and use those challenges in order to move myself ahead, and make a difference, a difference with me.

I am a spiritual Samaritan, helping myself and helping others move ahead with life, accomplishing tasks, honing skills, and improving lives. To do that, each of us must believe in ourselves, our capacity to love and realize our dreams, and to help others along the way.

—Neal Lemery 8/26/2014

Three Cups of Joy


“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
― Rumi

Three amazing experiences and celebrations in the last few days have blessed my life and filled my heart with joy. Each has reaffirmed the power and the gifts that love brings to my life.

I was honored to attend the wedding of a dear, long time friend, and to celebrate not only her marriage to her beloved, but also a welcome change in the law in my state, a law that now holds that marriage is a relationship, and a commitment that any two adults can share. Love, I realized again, is such an amazing force. Love in marriage, and the ability to share that love in this world, is the essence of our humanity.

Love filled their house, and we feasted on the sweetness of commitment, dedication, and respect to who they are, their marriage. We celebrated that love is the amazing and healing light in a person’s life, the basic reason we are here on this planet.

“Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go. You have made my life complete, and I love you so,” were the words Karen sang to our friends, my guitar adding more sweet notes to the occasion.

The second cup of joy was listening to a speech given by one of the young men I mentor in prison. He spoke before a large audience of fellow inmates and their families, gathered for the annual family day celebration. He spoke of courage and determination, and the super heroes in his life.

His speech was a month in the making, the words coming hard to him, as he focused on who he is becoming, and where he wants to go in his life. He’d practiced, and rewrote, until the words on the pages held by his trembling hands in front of the crowded room were just right, just what he wanted to celebrate.

We marveled at how he has grown, and the wisdom in his words. His road in life has not been easy, yet he is seeing the fruits of his hard work, his decision to make real changes in his life, and to move ahead. Now, he truly loves himself, and believes that the good things in life come about through the power of love and self respect.

His confidence, and his powerful message of self actualization rang across the crowd, inspiring all of us to love ourselves just a little bit more, and believe in our dreams.

The third cup of joy was watching a young man be recognized for all the hard work he has been doing in his first year at a university. A little over a year ago, he moved ahead in his life, taking big steps, working hard to attend a respected university. Now, he’s studying to earn his bachelor’s degree. He is Mr. Determination, and diligently works to balance a full life of school, a job, and family.

He dove into academic life, studying hard, asking questions, being active in study groups and class projects, going out of his comfort zone to succeed in college. In that new world, he achieved, and he grew, and he’s heading in some great directions in his life. He’s achieved a 4.0 GPA and was tapped to join the university’s honor society.

We sat next to him this weekend, joining all the other honorees and their families, listening to the presentations and all the congratulations. These students are the best and the brightest, and he fit right in. Looking into his eyes, I knew that he knew that, that he really was one of the best and the brightest, that he was living his dream, and he was achieving his goals.

He beamed with pride, and satisfaction, proudly showing off the plaque bearing his name and the title of University Honor Society Member. I could sense the light in his heart, that flame of passion and self confidence that, a couple of years ago, was only a flicker. Now, nourished by his hard work and his determination, and the recognition of his professors and fellow college students that he was smart, capable, and especially talented, that flame burns bright and clean. That flame is hot with passion, and lights up his world.

We, and a number of other folks, helped him keep alive that flicker of passion and desire for a better life, back when he was facing some tough challenges. Some of his past was telling him he couldn’t do it. We all slowly added some fuel and blew on the embers when there were times we thought the flame might go out. And, now, his determination and his ambitions in life keeps that flame ablaze on its own, with our quiet words of encouragement, our belief that he can do anything he puts his heart and mind to. He knows that his future is what he wants it to be, and there is no stopping him, in pursuing his dreams.

Three events, three times of sitting there, letting tears of joy flow down my face, three times of feeling the power of love in the room, knowing that love is what changes the world, overflowing my heart with hope and joy.

—Neal Lemery 6/2/2014

Outside of My Prison’s Walls


“Even though I’m out, I can’t seem to make my own decisions. Six years of someone else telling me what to do, where to go, how to act, and now I can’t seem to move ahead in my life, and do what I need to do for myself.”

“It’s like I’m still in prison. I’m still behind the walls,” my young friend told me, as we were deep in conversation about his life and where he was headed.

Yet, aren’t we all still behind the walls, the walls we make ourselves? Don’t each of us have that fear of moving ahead, and taking on our hard issues, and that tough challenge of having our own walls to climb over?

Life has a way of moving along, and we don’t often see ourselves in control of the directions we are taking, or our ability to find our own path. Our jobs, our families, our friends all seem to be the movers and the guides in our life that are shaping our daily lives, and where we are headed.

I like to think that I’m purposeful in what I do, and what my action plan is for the day, the week, maybe even the year. But, my daily routine and my usual “to do” list means the day has a lot of routines, and I end up responding to other people’s agendas more than my own, long term, “what is good for me” list.

And, often, other people’s expectations of me can soon turn into my own prison walls. Just playing follow the leader and letting other people’s plans and needs fill my day becomes pretty easy, and pretty comforting. I don’t have to think much, at least the thinking I should be doing about where I’m going in life, and who I want to become, and the dreams I want to realize and achieve.

I let the walls get built up, and I get comfortable with that, instead of speaking up for myself, and finding that voice inside of me that talks about my dreams and my goals.

Some philosophers would say that each one of us is living life in the prisons we’ve built ourselves, too afraid of taking charge, and finding the ladder to climb over the walls, or to search out the key to the lock to the gate.

I think I’m free, free to go outside and smell the fresh air, and walk down the road, or meet a friend for lunch, or mull over an idea and speak my peace about a hot topic. Yet, my daily routine and my well worn path in the road of life is pretty comfortable if I let others do the thinking and gently prodding me into going along with the plan for the day.

After all, it is easier to just nod my head and grunt an “uh, huh” when someone pontificates an idea that my heart is telling me needs to be challenged, needs to be explored at some length. That would take some work, and I might offend the other guy, and end up getting deep into a serious and thought provoking debate. And, I might actually learn something and find some flaws in my own thinking. I may even have to take some action, and get out of my routine.

Or, not. Just let their thought slide by, and I go along with the flow.

“Don’t rock the boat,” my grandmother used to say.

Yet, I recall she was pretty opinionated, and wasn’t shy about challenging some popular ideas and politics in her day. She wasn’t a model prisoner inside the walls society had built in her day, and she was good at teaching me to think outside the box and not take the usual way out of a dilemma by simply going along with the flow, and not rocking the boat.

A few weeks ago, I listened to Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian social activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a young medical student when a civil war broke out in her country, devastating her family and community, and halting her promising medical career. She wanted to break down the walls that kept her country from seeing an alternative to war, terror, and lack of opportunity for women and children.

She didn’t have an army, and she didn’t have money or power.

“But, I had my voice,” she said. ‘And I used it. I spoke up, every chance I got.”

She wouldn’t take no for an answer, and she wouldn’t let any walls, any thinking that social change was impossible, get in her way. She told the stories of the women and children in her country, and she talked about non violence and civil disobedience. She challenged and she provoked, and she taught and she argued.

She used her voice and moved her country towards peace. She made people think, and pushed people out of their ruts, helping them find the keys to their own prison gates, and to find their freedom and their true destiny.

Leymah Gbowee didn’t start down that road with the idea that she’d win the Nobel Peace Prize someday. She simply wanted her country to be at peace, and for her family and neighbors to be done with war, and to live in peace. She spoke up, using the only tool she had, her voice.

My young friend is finding his voice, and I see a lot of other people finding their voices, and finding the keys to their own prison gates. Folks are moving out into freedom, out into the sunshine outside of their own prison walls.

Neal Lemery, May 14, 2014

Possibility


No limit, no dead end road
all things, one dreams, all ideas
could happen–
depending
on me, if I think I can
if I move beyond the limits
the old voices and me put in the way;
if I believe in all that I am
and all that I am
becoming.

Listening to that voice
deep inside, whispering at the dawn
what is possible, what could be—
if I move away from the limits,
the fences I thought were there—
if I move, instead, into my dreams,
into what my heart knows is
possible.

Yet, first, I must listen to that deepness inside,
I must
hear
and decide, in my soul,
to change

–Neal Lemery, 4/25/2014.