This week has been full of awakening, learning to see clearly.

Every morning after a cardio or yoga workout, we start the day off with “God Time.” In this time, we get to have a conversation with the Trinity, through his Word, stillness, nature, vulnerability, and listening.

Once a week with the other dudes, I get to care for the land by mowing or weed-eating or other out-door jobs. As a school, with a partner, we get to tend daily our own garden plots of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, basil, cucumber, thyme, and marigolds.

Twice a week I have Movement Collective. With 4 others, I get to know the strength of my body through yoga, exercises, and then responding to the Lord’s voice and music with dance. I am discovering that God made me with a body to create with, and it’s okay if I’ve never done this before! Children don’t care what parents think of their dancing; they just do it and eventually learn how to be led by the music and voice of God. There is so much compassion for me; I am not what I do! One of the beautiful transformations I am already celebrating is my joy in dancing. We have had several moments of dancing all together as a school, and every time I have stepped into it receiving the Father’s smile, I become more aware of the power I walk in as a son of God in family.

In Art class, we are learning to see ourselves the way God sees us, and teaching our hands to see by creating self-portraits. In each drawing of myself, I have noticed areas where I criticized something about myself, and the Father then gives me a truer view—what He sees.

Another thing I am beginning to see with new eyes is my history. One of my brothers, Nic, is very passionate about being from Alabama. Working and talking with him has sparked pride in my heart, for my own heritage. Friday, I was walking to breakfast, and I passed two of the workers, who were finishing the new cabin, talking in thick southern accents about horse racing (I think). It’s so good to be home and feel a part of these woods, to know my heritage and blood belongs to this land. It’s such a satisfying feeling to be a man of the fields and hills and forests. My body knows its place—the humidity and heat, the spastic summer rain showers, the beautiful way the sun catches the rich green leaves, and the deep, indigo nights full of the creee-crying of cicadas and frogs. My soul and spirit are beginning to know it deeply. Family has deep roots, along with food that reminds you of your childhood, and hard work that can only be found in tending the garden.

As a community and school, we are reading and walking through a book called, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Pete Scazzero. The chapter this week focused on the importance of properly grieving our losses in life. We were not made to shelve our pain, but to let it pass through us with the help of the Spirit. I was made to be fully human, just like Jesus embraced the fullness of his humanity. Discussing this book with friends and God has been one way my eyes have been opened, to see how I have not properly grieved certain markers in my life because I have denied or minimized their pain, blamed myself and others, or distracted myself with busyness. Thank you, Jesus, that I can fully express my emotions and neediness as a human! You are not offended by what I truly feel! I begin to know my Comforter, when I learn to grieve! His yoke is easy, and his burden is light!

Jesus gave me a parable on Tuesday regarding these moments that make up my story, joyful and painful. Taking a walk, I came to the big pile of logs that have been sitting on the side of the gravel drive for years. He pointed them out to me: they were all covered in different bark patterns and were different sizes and ages. At one time, they were the giants thriving in these woods. Each ring proved their faithfulness to stretch and reach higher for more light. But their time came to an end, and now they were dead. But they still haven’t lost their identity; they still have purpose, to be cut and built into something new, to fuel fires and support bodies—centerpieces of friendship and storytelling.

Jesus then explained that he wanted to take the fallen and cut down trees of my story and give them new purpose, to reveal to me that moments I had forgotten or covered over had a beautiful purpose. My story finds its richness in honoring every tree ring that has marked my life. In doing so, I make room for new life, new rings rooted in truth: belonging and belovedness.

The goal is not to be fully God, but to be fully human.

Soften my heart, Jesus; I want to be like you.

He wants me to see fully because He fully sees.

Please be praying that I will take time to notice moments when I feel pressure in situations to perform or to get things right. I am not here to collect and robotically replicate what I am learning. I am here to unravel, to come undone at the feet of Jesus and let Him show me the beautiful truth about myself, Himself, and family.

If you want to send me letters or want to chat, I would love that! Though I may not be present, I want to stay connected with your hearts and hear the growth that is happening! I love you all!

Write to:

18 Inch Journey

Attn: Taylor Henry/Phase 2

4228 Beckerdite Road

Sophia, NC 27350

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