Dear Hope Nation,

I’m excited, and you should be too. Really.

This Saturday at 2 pm you’re invited to be part of something big, something bold and something that matters. You have the opportunity to express who you are. Before I continue, let me give you the Zoom address:

Join Zoom Meeting

Saturday at 2 pm, Matt Roy, a friend of mine, a talented lyricist and a gifted musician—the keyboardist for the Hope Ensemble—will begin a series of meetings with one goal: enabling each and every member, visitor or hanger-on of Hope Nation to show who we are, through words, through music, through rapping. Mainly, though, through emotional nakedness.

I’ve been at Hope for two-and-a-half years, and I’ve met a lot of cool people and seen a lot of cool stuff, especially art stuff. Most of us in recovery, including me a number of times, had mug shots taken. Most of us were under some kind of chemical influence when those shots were taken. A while after I got here, we had a project where we asked people to draw a recovery mug shot, a picture of themselves as they are now. These pictures were placed on the wall across from my office, and seem to have led to a mini-renaissance. Over time, about 500 paintings have been created and hung on Hope’s walls. Some of them are great, truly masterful. Others are rudimentary. Every single one of them, though, shouts,

I was here. I matter.

This Saturday at 2 pm, Matt will help us figure out what we want to say, how we want to say it and how best to put those two things together using voice, rhythm, rhyme and tone. It would be easy to call it a “rap class,” and I suppose that’s accurate on some level. Really, though, it’s a chance to express yourself, an opportunity to say, “I am here. I matter.”  Before I continue, let me give you the Zoom address again:

Join Zoom Meeting

Your paintings may already hang on the walls at Hope, or you may be a newer member who hasn’t had the chance to paint. Whether or not your artistic ability is extraordinary or average or even mundane, there is a spot for your work. There is a place for you. A spot for you to say, “I was here. I matter.”

A simple definition of art is that it’s a way to decorate space, and that’s true. Even more, though, it’s a record of a time in the artist’s life, even if that moment is simply the time it took to create the painting.  Music and any audio, really, is a way to decorate time. Beginning this Saturday, you can be part of Hope’s next renaissance.

I believe the recovery mug shot I did a couple years ago is the illustration for this letter. No one with eyes to see looks at that painting and beholds a work of art, just some splotches of, as I recall, black and red paint that looks vaguely human. I am no gifted artist. Still, I was there. I matter. This Saturday afternoon, I’ll be on Zoom to learn more about how to express that idea through sound. I hope to see all of you there. After all:

You matter. I matter. We matter. I hope you are here.


P.S. Let me give you the Zoom address one last time:

Join Zoom Meeting

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