Ever since he was a little kid, Douglas has found solace in the outdoors. The warmth of the sunshine, the dirt under his fingernails, new life that sprouts up from beneath the ground. His mother had a garden and it was theirs together. Their place. Their home.
Each week, Douglas spends much of his day at the center, where his quiet enthusiasm and tender heart have earned him friends among the individuals and staff alike. He’s tall and lean, with an eternal smile that spreads wide across his cheeks. Ask him about that garden and it stretches even wider. Light shines from behind his green eyes and, suddenly, you’re there with him, in the garden, where tasty things grow and life is simple:
Plant, water, harvest.
Good stuff goes in, and good stuff comes out.
When the opportunity came for a greenhouse to be built and a garden to be planted on the center property, Douglas helped make it happen. And now he oversees the care of every living thing. He weeds. He plants. He waters. He picks.
He also sells. Earlier this summer, Douglas sold a mini-harvest of vegetables at a local wholesale market and earned a check that he proudly displayed to his friends and staff at the center.
This is his job. But it’s more than that, too.
It’s his life. And because of him, more life begins each day.
She is shy about sharing her drawings with the group, but there’s a pride that still shines through, despite her misgivings. She loves to sketch, to trace, and to color, but will everyone else love what she’s done? Will they laugh at her work?
Or will they see what she sees?
Beverly stands from her chair and holds up a sketch of a dinosaur, a triceratops.
“This is one of my favorite drawings that I’ve done,” she says, shifting her feet from side to side. “I trace the ones I like most from other books and color them. I draw my own sometimes, too.”
The colors are soft and shaded between the lines. She’s careful and precise with her work. All artists are with the things they love.
A rounding chorus of “That’s pretty, Beverly!” “I like that!” and “I wish I could draw!” sound from around the room. Beverly visibly relaxes in the wake of their interest and then pulls out a whole book of her drawings, eager to show off more of her favorites.
She guides them through each page, telling a story with her words and with her pictures.
A story worth hearing.
A story worth seeing.
As all good stories are.
The pavement is hot and hard beneath his running shoes. His arm is starting to grow heavy from the weight of carrying the flame high above his head. But he keeps going. It’s his turn.
Danny Robinson holds a picture frame in his hands, a picture of himself from eighteen years ago, running through a crowd of people on a summer day in Georgia. It was 1996, the year of the Centennial Summer Olympics. The year Atlanta was selected to be the host of nations and athletes from across the globe. The year of The Magnificent Seven and 44 United States gold medals. Most of us remember that summer with pride and excitement. We can recall parades and marching bands and small town street parties celebrating the “Running of the Torch”. But no one lived it quite like the runners themselves…none quite like Danny.
He shares the story of how he was selected to carry the torch with clear, articulate words. Every few moments, he grows shy. But his hesitation doesn’t last more than a few minutes. The memory of that run is as strong as it was nearly two decades ago, and his joy along with it.
He hears the shouts and cheers of onlookers as he passes by, flame in hand. Cameras click and flash. The motorcade surrounding him rumbles, the smell of gasoline hanging like a curtain in the hot, humid air. But he barely notices. All he can think about is this moment, this opportunity, this day. He keeps running.
“I still have the shirt and shorts I wore,” Danny tells us. “I could probably still fit into them, too!”
Everyone laughs. Danny smiles.
“What was it like?” someone asks from the group.
Danny looks at the picture in his hands. “It was the best day ever.”