First, there was a writing group: a dozen or more Tenderloin residents working together on deep authenticity through creative expression, under the tender, skillful leadership of Robert-Harry Rovin.
Enter: six college freshmen, all young women as it happened.
Add a tragedy: Three weeks earlier, Robert-Harry had fallen and hurt himself. Though he has made significant progress, it remains unclear when he will be returning to lead this group.
I could barely imagine how it could possibly work.
Well, that’s why they call us Fools. And Faithful – this was all about faith.
Here’s what Robert-Harry has said about his “Write-On!” workshop methodology: “Creativity is an integral part of being human. As people discover a voice for their experience, I have seen them become more alive, connecting more deeply with their innermost thoughts and emotions.”
We gathered on a recent Thursday – ages 18 to 82, with diversity of life experience to match. In Robert-Harry’s absence, Meg Whittaker-Green, who had written faithfully in the workshop for months and years, invited the participants into the space of sensing what “the truth is,” and moving pen over paper to begin to express that.
It takes courage, and something I would call faith: that something authentic will appear if you relax a bit into looking deeply inside. But freshman women? and denizens of the Tenderloin? Can there be that much trust in the universe, that people from such different worlds will allow themselves to reveal to one another what “the truth is” on a Thursday afternoon?
Turns out, there is. It began in the first check-in, when one of the young students said, big grin on her face: “I don’t really know why, but I feel so happy – so at home – when I come in here.”
She didn’t know it, but she was echoing one of the poets in the room. Earlier that week, in another gathering, he had been saying that he never felt he could really be who he was – except maybe here, at Fools’ Court.
Meg led us into a meditation, followed by writing, trusting the community, trusting the space of open-hearted freedom that Fools Court is for so many, trusting the process Robert-Harry developed over many years. When it came time for people to share what they wrote, there was space for it all, for the tough and the tender, the wise and the wistful, for philosophical questioning and cosmic flights of imagination. And in my own heart that day? A myth or two, shattered; wonder, reignited.