Something beautiful has happened since former JMU English professor, Susan Facknitz, started a creative writing class here at OCP. I’ve always loved to write, and I knew how personally it helped me manage my emotions and negative thoughts. But to see that passion come alive in the most unexpected individuals has been…joyful.
Our first class was last week, and we spent most of the time reading different poems and learning about different writing styles. People came to life as they talked about how the poems made them feel, what it made them think, how they connected or didn’t connect with the different scenarios described. One particular woman named Angie was a particularly pleasant surprise.
Angie is definitely the quiet type, very introverted. She and her significant other would come in, find their own designated area, and keep to themselves for the most part. I spoke to Angie a few times and said “hello” every time I saw her, but tried to give her space for the most part. So you can imagine how simultaneously shocked and pleased I was to see her sitting at the table on our first day of creative writing class. Turns out, she loves writing poetry! And has loved it for a long time. I enjoyed watching her eyes squint as she intensely read each poem. I could tell by the look on her face how thoughtful she was. She would comment on the poems, and talk about how they made her feel. It was a side of Angie that I didn’t even know existed!
Another beautiful instance was seeing our friend, Isidoro, join the circle. Isidoro speaks broken English, and can read English fairly well, but he has trouble writing it. He was able to read along with the poems, but he struggled with the writing activity we did at the end. Out of the blue, Carolyn, a wonderful soul, leaned over and said in Spanish to him, “I will help you learn to write in English.” It blew me away! Caucasian female Carolyn was able to fluently tell Isidoro that she would help him. They live at the Salvation Army together, and she was genuinely excited to be able to assist him in their free time.
We are so very grateful for Susan, and the joy that she has brought into people’s lives with this writing class. At the end, she even brought journals for everyone to take home and start writing on their own. For the first time ever, Angie joined hands in the circle before dinner and said that she was thankful for the writing class. I had to hold my mouth shut to keep it from dropping open. It’s amazing to see how different activities, hobbies and passions, can bring out the Light that lies in all of us.
If you get a chance some day, join us. Every Thursday at 3:45pm. Maybe you, too, will experience the beauty of writing.