Friday, August 30, 2013

Reconnecting with Life at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

This hasn't been a good week for me.  Life is full of ups and downs, and I've been riding in this little valley for a little too long now.  I've tried reading scriptures. I've made some feeble attempts at praying.  Why is it when we need prayer the most, we feel so inadequate at it?   I've listened to music.  I've tried to write about my dark thoughts, but that's just too scary, so mostly I just try to clean up old drafts so I can post SOMETHING.  I've started reading The Merlin Trilogy as a diversion. I've tried some new recipes.

When I feel like this, I withdraw.  I tend to answer questions with short responses, not wanting to bother with too many words because that would probably get feelings involved, and I'm keeping pretty busy stuffing those down at the moment.  I know I'm not fun to live with at times like this.

My husband has given me what I need most; time and space.  He hasn't rushed me to get out of this spot.  I figure while I'm down here, I better learn whatever there is to be learned, because once I climb out, I don't want to have to come back any time soon for any refresher courses.

A few weeks earlier, a friend of mine who teaches sixth grade had invited me to join my old fifth graders on their field trip to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. (It's going on this weekend, August 30-31, 2013)  It sounded so fun to me...being in Provo Canyon, listening to stories, and reconnecting with those wonderful children who have touched my heart forever.  Going on a field trip with hundreds of pre-teens may not sound like a fun afternoon to you, but it was just what this old soul needed.

When I asked my husband if he wanted to go with me to meet my kids on their field trip, he knew how much I needed to be there.  While he got ready, I ran to the store to stock up on a special treat for the kids:  Caramel Tootsie Pops.  I had given them to my homeroom last year, and they were a big hit.  I'd share them with the whole crew, for old time's sake.

Mark asked me which way I wanted to go to the festival, and gave me several different options.  I simply said, "Take the scenic route."  And we did.  We drove along the Weber River of Morgan County, passed the Devil's Chute, and noticed the first leaves turning a rusty yellow in the Uintas.  We drove through Heber Valley, where I spent many weekends during college, gathering supplies for backpacking trips near Kamas and Strawberry Reservoir, and on our way home, stopping by Granny's for a milkshake, or Dick's for frozen lemon custard.  A flood of sweet memories rushed over me as we drove through Heber City, and then made our way onto Highway 189 toward Provo Canyon.  When we spotted the big yellow school buses parked at the Mount Timpanogos Park, I started looking for my kids.

My friend Kim, with Kim and Reggie Harris, storytellers extraordinaire.
When we finally arrived (the scenic route takes a couple of hours, instead of the one hour I had anticipated), the storytelling festival was wrapping up with the last two stories.  I found the group in a spacious white tent, cooled with fans softly humming.  Kim and Reggie Harris were captivating this large audience of middle schoolers with a beautifully told story of Martin Luther King, Jr., through music and words.  Have you ever tried to entertain ONE teenager for an afternoon? They had those kids on the edge of their seats.  All of them.

As I was listening to Reggie play the guitar, I felt a presence to my right.  I looked up to see Seth,
my sweet, wonderful Sethers, standing in the aisle, grinning down at me from ear-to-ear.  I got up and took him in my arms for a big hug.  We all scooted seats so that he could sit by us.  Bad feelings can't stay around very long when Mr. Seth is nearby.

When I got up to take pictures of Reggie and Kim, my kids noticed I was there.  As I listened to the stories, I took a few pictures of my kids.  Oh, I had missed these people.  Occasionally, someone would turn around and wave enthusiastically, or I would catch an eye of one of those darling kids.  I was so glad to be there.

The last storyteller was Andy Irwin.  He held our attention with his stories of growing up in the south.  He told tales of tadpoles and best friends, of back to school shopping and the next to the last day of summer vacation.  As an audience, we participated as he had us repeat lines of his song.  The kids laughed as he roped them in with his sound effects and perfectly executed comedic timing.

When the last applause died down and children started milling about to head back to the buses, I was overwhelmed with hugs and greetings.  Mark passed out the Tootsie Pops while I took pictures of my awesome kids and received so many hugs.  My spirit was soaring.  It needed this...being surrounded by love and fun and positive energy.

On our way home, I squeezed Mark's arm.  I held his hand.  I thanked him for the most wonderful day.  "Welcome back, Denise."  I can feel my heart softening, and my spirit nudging me back into this wonderful life I've been taking for granted by hiding from it.  It felt so good to be outside, surrounded by people who love me, with my husband by my side.  It's good to be back.

I love my kids...all of them.

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