At the end of yoga class in the juvenile justice center, everyone lays down for a rest. This week, to help the kids relax, I asked them to think of or imagine a place all their own, someplace comfortable, where no one would interrupt, where they were OK, just as they are. The room fell quiet.
Then one boy said, “Here.”
No one sniggered or lifted a head to see who said it.
He probably didn’t mean he liked being in jail. No one likes being in jail. Who knows what’s going on in his life that would make incarceration seem better? Still, it was an acknowledgment of sorts. Not something you hear every day from an inmate.
An army of people run this place, teachers, tutors, counselors, lawyers, nurses, staffers. How many forgo better salaries in order to help young people untangle their problems? Kudos to all of them — kids included. When things go wrong in a kid’s life, really wrong, finding a way back is hard work.
It’s the dark season here in the Northwest. Sometimes, when skies are gray for the fifth day in a row, when my fingers ache with cold, it’s easy to forget to be grateful for the rain that’s finally come. Likewise, when kids make return appearances in detention for a second or third time, it’s discouraging; but maybe, sometimes, it’s what they need.
There was wisdom, too, in the boy’s response. Where is your special place? It’s here. It’s where we are, right now.
Wherever you are, whether it’s celebrating with people you love, dealing with challenges, or just going about your life, warm wishes on this American holiday of thanksgiving.