Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to share a program on Gratitude and Abundance at a retirement community I have visited many times.  Over the years, I have brought laughter programs and other interactive discussions to the residents.  This time I received a call asking that I bring something that would bring the residents together and provide a sense of cohesiveness; thus we chose these two topics.

We convened in the very expansive dining room, with most people congregated towards the front of the space.  There was one lady who chose to sit outside of the group.  I have learned over time that people sit where they may, and there is no need to ask them to join in or come closer; so it was with this situation, too.  What was learned that day was just because someone is outside of the group, it by no means indicates a lack of interest or of participation.

We began the program discussing gratitude, asking what that meant to each person who wished to speak out loud, and also inviting others to write it down on a sheet that was distributed with questions and a cornucopia large enough to color in.  This way everyone had a creative way to express their thoughts.  We did the same talking about abundance; what we have much of and how we can appreciate that wholeheartedly.  There was lively conversation, quiet time to contemplate the questions and art work being designed, all unfolding in the most beautiful way.  Conversations and stories abounded.  As I enjoyed the expressions of many of the participants, I still had my eye on the lady on the outside of the group.

When the program was over, the lady on the outside of the group asked me to come over.  She shared that she had enjoyed the program.  She told me her name was Kay.  She also said she had been a woodworker back in the day, carving and building and creating, enjoying the somewhat solitary task, and enjoyed working with the wood.  She then mentioned that she had a poem she had written in her room that she wanted to share, but figured I needed to be on my way.  I said I'd love to see her words, and since I did have to leave, if she could pass it on to the Resident Services Coordinator, she could then email it to me.  So she did.

What was received was the deeply moving poem you will read below.  Reading Kay's words taught me that each soul in that room has depth, grace, and beauty well beyond what can be visualized with eyes.  And that each person participates in the unique way they can.  What you will read below exquisitely reveals her heart, her gratitude.  Thanks to Kay and to Janet, the Resident Services Coordinator, for allowing me to share Kay's words with you.

I HEARD

I heard they said “She listens to a different drummer.”

I heard she said “No-I am a different drummer.”

I heard they said “She talks to the trees, but they don’t listen to her.”

I heard she said “No-I talk with the trees,”   I envy their roots, which gives them strength.

I enjoy the feel of their outer skins which gives them character.

I love being held in the shade of their out reaching limbs.

I am engulfed in their songs as the winds go by.

I live in and with what my trees tell me, in their rhythms of the seasons

To grow-To stay a different drummer.

I heard said an American Elm.

-Kay W.