When we first walked into these rooms we were strangers.  Our guards were up.  We were here for a purpose – a purpose known only by us.  We said our names and told our stories, but handled it all with care.  We were strangers.  Who were these nine others with whom we would take this journey?  Could they be trusted? Would they be friend or foe?  These were strangers with whom we tread carefully.

Last night, these same individuals sat around wiping tears from our eyes as laughter filled the room.  It had been this way all night.  Sweet, sentimental tears followed by hearty laughter from deep within our bellies.  We sit comfortably together in this little room, personal space long ago forgotten as with comfortable ease we lean on one another, reach over to touch a hand, or simply drape an arm over another in affection.  Those who were missing were spoken of with love and the lack of their presence was felt as if a record kept skipping over a favorite part of a song.

As I sat perched in a corner chair with feet tucked under me in a posture of familiarity only adopted with good friends and family, my heart swelled even larger – though in truth I do not believe this to be possible much longer before my heart actually bursts.

We have laughed together till our sides and stomachs hurt, we have loved each other without question or judgment, we have worried for the health of one, have been anxious for the safety of another, and we have lowered our masks and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable for the betterment of all.

It is in these faces that a piece of me finds home. These faces….just over a year ago strangers, yet now family.  Chosen for me by a Divine Appointer, I believe.   Who else could have crafted such a group in which each person fills a specific role?  For each of us has a role to play in this part of the journey….a friend, a confidant, a mother, a sister, a brother, a peace giver, a steady rock, or an encourager. Each a breath of life-giving air at exactly the correct moment in time.

It is in these faces I see reflected back the dream and hope of who I am and who I am becoming.  They each realize in me something different than I see when I look in my own  reflection; and each in their own way reflect their image of me back to myself.

Six short weeks, given in doses of two weeks each in six month stretches….and just like that this vaporous life moves on.  Yet I am changed never to be the same.


Cohort 35 – TOTRA – The One They Rave About
Once Strangers now Family. (with two of our favorite professors)