Power of music offers something for each of us

Power of music offers something for each of us

I’d noticed him earlier, the slender man with the slightly disheveled hair.  I’d watched him as he walked laps around the perimeter of the room. Now he approached and stood directly in front of me, our faces barely a foot apart. Under most circumstances, it would have felt like an encroachment on my personal space, but I didn’t mind. Not uttering a sound, he just kept staring intently into my eyes. Although I was unable to give him the attention…

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Brave steps look and feel different from the inside

Brave steps look and feel different from the inside

I’ve heard we often face the same lesson in life over and over until we finally “get it.” When we eventually learn what we’re supposed to from a situation, we can move on to something else. I’m wondering now if the same principle applies to my thoughts. Lately I’ve been plagued by a feeling of restlessness in my life. In reality, it’s been recurring for quite a while. I’ve resisted, attempting to press it into submission. I’ve tried to carry…

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Your heart knows how to love everyone you see

Your heart knows how to love everyone you see

One year before Valentine’s Day, my colleague Katy suggested we make special valentines for each of the kids at the detention center. With the help of the detention officers, we came up with a list of positive qualities of each student.   In truth, it may have required us to dig a little deeper for some students. And, sometimes we may have had to exercise a little creativity with our wording. Eventually, however, we came up with plenty of wonderful,…

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Opposite? Unlovable? Love them anyway

Opposite? Unlovable? Love them anyway

When we moved to the new detention facility in 2000, our school program received a huge boost in resources. It was exciting because, so opposite from previously, we had complete sets of classroom textbooks. Our wonderful new literature books catered to a wide range of reading abilities. Included in the drama unit was a favorite of mine, an excerpt of Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Every year we read that act of the play, and afterwards, we…

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Gregory Boyle’s brand of good inspires abundant awe

Gregory Boyle’s brand of good inspires abundant awe

One of my favorite writers these days is Gregory Boyle, author of Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir. A Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries, he writes of his experiences working with gangs in Los Angeles. The thing is, although the books are not really that long, they take me forever to finish. I tend to read a little, cry a little, sometimes laugh a bit, and then reread sections multiple times. I’m amazed by his…

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Even in Dave’s different world, he recognized peace

Even in Dave’s different world, he recognized peace

Sixteen-year-old Dave was arrested and brought to detention for battery. The incident occurred at the residential facility where he lived.   As in similar situations, we were aware he might become combative if he became agitated. He never did. In fact, he seemed happy to be in detention, despite the tight restrictions. Unlike most students, he never even complained about the food. One morning the staff surprised the students with news we’d be having a guest speaker that day. University of Illinois…

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Beagle’s buckshot shows we all hide our hurt

Beagle’s buckshot shows we all hide our hurt

On the outside, most of the people I see appear to be doing all right. Most seem to keep busy and are generally pleasant as they go about their daily lives. The truth is, challenges confront all of us. I think I was always aware of that, but only vaguely so. It took a dog to help me better understand the difficulties so many people face. Three years ago I became the owner of a dog I initially didn’t want….

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‘Giant’ guest post: No, it’s not so big and scary

‘Giant’ guest post: No, it’s not so big and scary

Um, is it wrong that I spent even more than a few seconds today considering how I’d like to be a giant so I could simply flick away people when they bugged me? I know the answer. But what if? I know I too often let little things bother me. But what if someone shared at a meeting – for example – something they’d created that I wasn’t crazy about? And what if I didn’t understand where the idea came…

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What scraps of paper mean for a brand-new year

What scraps of paper mean for a brand-new year

Every December 31 for as long as I can remember, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions. And for as long as I can remember, those resolutions—often the same ones year after year—quickly fell by the wayside. Each time I failed to follow through, I ended up feeling disappointed. I berated myself for my lack of discipline and added a layer or two of guilt I felt I deserved. Several years ago I transitioned from the impossible resolution lists to creating vision boards. I…

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Our choice: We can make the most of each situation

Our choice: We can make the most of each situation

Holiday music programs became pretty standard at JDC while I was there. After that first year, the audience grew to include many adults working with the students.  There were  probation officers, attorneys, social workers, detention volunteers, and even a judge along the way. The eventual move into a new building improved the ambiance—as much as any jail-like facility can claim such atmosphere. Cookies and punch after the programs seemed to help a lot, too. Unlike most performances, at JDC we…

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