Today at the end of an emotional and difficult day, I went to the hospital to visit a member who had been suddenly hospitalized. (The member is doing okay, but still in some pain.) I parked near the E.R. and walked in the E.R. doors to avoid being out in the cold, and then walked through the hallway to the main hospital lobby.
There in the hallway were pictures from The Real MEN's Project. I've seen these pictures before. Most of them are in the wonderful book, Real Dads, by Dani Meier, the founder, which I got for my husband for Father's Day the year it came out. But it was different suddenly encountering them in a hallway, and not just because of the bigger size of the photos. It was different because it was an encounter in a different way with these fathers in our community who have signed a pledge against domestic violence along with their children. Each picture has the name of the photographer beside it, and at the bottom of the picture there's a pledge of nonviolence signed by the father photographed. One of my favorites is this one by my friend Tom McMillen-Oakley. They hang it upside-down, he says. This is the right-side up view: That's his daughter's feet in the photo, along with his own.
There are a few other names and faces I recognized once again as I walked around. On the way back out of the hospital, I stopped again, and this time stopped and looked at each and every photograph, and the men and their children, at the names of the photographers, at those signed pledges over and over again. And then I sat and just smiled, and cried a little.
What a wonderful, healing balm that walk was. If you need a moment to cry tears of joy, take a walk to Allegiance Health and walk the long way in. If you're not local, watch the video. You don't get to see those signed pledges, but you see the images of these fathers and children:
It was exactly what I needed to see today. What a moment of grace that was to take the long way in.