Six months ago we took our first workshop online. A week later, we realized that the tools of connection we had developed over our ten years in military healthcare settings needed to be shared. We opened our workshops up to everyone, regardless of military affiliation. We sketched out a schedule. We invited some of our favorite writers to facilitate. We added sessions. We invited more of our favorite artists. We added workshops specifically for healthcare workers. We added visual art workshops.

What has happened in these six months was impossible for us to imagine then, and the magnitude of it is so difficult to articulate. Each week, unlikely groups of veterans, service members, healthcare workers, published poets, and first time writers gather on zoom to create a sort of time-space. Between workshops, folks that may not otherwise have met stay connected. Facilitators invite their friends, who become our friends. Thank you to each and every one of you who have shared your story, facilitated a workshop, been generous with your attention and affirmation. One of the most wonderful things about our zoom workshops is the affirming chat–where we respond with admiration to one another’s writing.

The wonderful Joy Jacobson, who facilitated a workshop on Wednesday, turned our chat into a beautiful collaborative poem, inspired by “Praise” by Joy Harjo:

Praise the dark
the myriad stars
the myriad stars, the milky way
praise the path into self
grounding flight
empty praise come on
because it’s expected…
echoes in heart chambers
some people refuse peace
the path that unfolds beneath your feet
And the things you have lost control of
praise the uncertainty
praise… the things you have lost control of!
the uncertainty
will be given to your granddaughter’s goldfish
Tell me!
Like a traffic cone
Like the light was never prepared
in the morning it seems like the light never knew us
let me/ out
into the sunset of the whole world
let me out rhythm
you are made for apocalypse
the cat can stay inside angry
ready to go like a racing flag
not yet
maybe, maybe, maybe
let it be okay even if it doesn’t feel good
Baby cry of a wake
wet around his raccoon eyes
the angel name
you are feeling what the world is holding
I can’t say I’m an addict, but I’m doing too much
Color of my son
cherish the not burning
The drop like we hear in music
He leaves in a gust
ashes ashes keep falling down
praise the path that brought you here. bungee cord
A mother never knows … holding or letting go
a mother never knows.
a love letter to a burning world
the clay we curl into bowls to hold our grapes
bones in these pruny pods
Just little beans
praise the sauntering path
when you hear a noise in the woods it is you
in this lusher place
praise the eggs you will lay then…
It always managed to rain right under your feet
footstep hunting
Or outside of the bed
creates the anxiety of monsters  under the bed
unless it returns
Of fear of falling asleep
the darkness of the night becomes comforting again
such a sweet ending
A second heartbeat beside you
blackberries, yes!
praise the brambles!
and the bees!
something keeps me going on
I’ll be alone
A safe heart
When I love myself I’ll have a safe heart
So I could just know and move on
if your house is not a home then where do you belong?
The baby cry through the wall in the early morning
The gentle name, the moon name
where the car waits to carry me
when I am being enough
When I am being enough
The way I speak them back
grace, it brings more grace
the moon name i call myself when i am being enough
Praise the light that never fails
the places I finally left
Praise it all and let it go
my legs long beneath my skin