Lessons From Mayberry

The election is over. (Heavy sigh of breath exhaled.) But this isn’t a blog about politics or details of who got my vote.

Stickers are great fun!

Sticker stacking is for children and fun, not relationships.

It’s a story about meeting two candidates for Sheriff in Oconee County and relationships.

About March of last year, they were holding Mayberry Days in Westminster, South Carolina. Mayberry Days are an opportunity for local businesses and residents to come out and celebrate the joys of living in rural America. There are doubles of the characters from the Andy Griffith Show hired to walk the streets and say, “Well goooooollllllly” really loud. This year I had the job of working at a booth right next to one of the candidates for Sheriff, Mike. The race for sheriff was rather contentious this year with allegations of scandal, corrupt financing, and even a kidnapping attempt. Needless to say, small town politics this year were more World Wrestling Federation than Andy Griffith. That day was the first opportunity I had to meet not only Mike, but a couple of his competitors in the hotly contested race.

Mike took the time to talk with me, explain some of the bizarre backstory of the Sheriff’s department, and really make a connection. He seemed honest, he had wonderful family and genuine friends there to give him support, and I enjoyed getting to know him.

On a break from my duties at the booth, I took my five-year-old walking among the other attractions. She was excited to be wearing an “I Like Mike” sticker because when you’re five —  no matter what they are about — stickers are just fun! Nearing the end of the thoroughfare, we met “Donnie,” another candidate for Sheriff. He grabbed my hand to shake it, asked for my vote, and promptly stuck his sticker right over top of Mike’s on my daughter’s blouse. He then moved on to the person behind me. Did he really think that a sticker over another candidate’s could replace relationship and a real connection?

Guess who got my vote come November.

As I voted this month, I formed an analogy between stickers and relationships. Why are there folks in this world who think they can just replace a significant event or person with the “sticker-on-top” mentality? Why do we avoid the work of building relationships or of healing broken or difficult relationships and just look for the easy way out? Have we really become so oriented to sound bites, instant answers and “disposableness” that we think it can apply to people and relationships as well? What does that say about our superficiality if we refuse to go deep to make real connections or make necessary reparations when the going gets rough?

I’ve been guilty of being a sticker stacker rather than a relational builder in the past, but my experiences, my church, and my time at Cherokee Creek Boys School have changed me forever. Being a part of middle school boys forming and building relationships with their families has inspired me to do the same hard work in my own life too.

Real and True Sheriff Andy Griffith practiced relationship building and was always willing to work through the problems – just look at the patience he had with his own deputy! The challenge for all of us is not to return to Mayberry, but to replace sticker stacking where it exists in our lives with the harder and meaningful deepening of our relationships.

Westminster’s Mayberry Days won’t roll around for another few months, but I’ll be back. There is something comforting in reminiscing about a simple t.v. show reflecting simple lives and real relationships. Our new sheriff may not be Andy Griffith, but he’s no Barney either. And our boys at Cherokee Creek are discovering every day what is real and true about themselves and the world around them. May they – as relationship builders – leave the stickers to children, and have more Mayberry days than not.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (5)

Women of Courage…

Women of Courage: CCBS Founder Beth Black, CCBS Manager of Clinical Services Jane Barker and 8 wonderful ladies who participated in this the innaugural Women of Courage retreat.

Women of Courage: CCBS Founder Beth Black, CCBS Manager of Clinical Services Jane Barker and 8 wonderful ladies who participated in this the innaugural Women of Courage retreat.

My dear friend Rick Stone wrote a wonderful book called The Healing Art of Storytelling. In it he says, “Telling a story, especially about ourselves, may be one of the most personal and intimate things we can do. Through storytelling we can come to know who we are in new and unforeseen ways. We can also reveal to others what is deepest in our hearts, and in the process, build bridges.” And when women gather in healing circles to tell their stories, extraordinary things happen!

In early February, 8 amazing Cherokee Creek Boys School moms gathered from around the country to attend “Women of Courage,” a retreat I hosted with Jane Barker, Manager of Clinical Services at CCBS. For two and a half days we read, wrote, talked, laughed, cried and ate great food (thanks to Beth Venable). We wove our stories into a beautiful “blanket of support,” creating a safe environment to share the vulnerable and authentic parts of our lives. We discovered, challenged assumptions, shed unnecessary burdens and made new commitments. And we laughed…a lot!

We began our retreat with a Rumi poem:

A Community of Spirit

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
If you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle

Our CCBS Medicine Wheel places Courage in the position of the Warrior and challenges us to, “Show up and be present.” The ten of us showed up fully with delight, passion and maybe even a bit of disgrace! We did, indeed, create a community of spirit. With courage, we opened our hands and arms to one another and sat in a circle of new friends.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments Off on Women of Courage…