This afternoon, I finally looked at my e-mail from the past day and a half. The e-mail from Barbara Schultz shocked me.
For the past eight weeks, each of us in my Bring Your Book to Life Program had gotten to know and love some of the animals on Barb’s farm through the stories she wrote–and the quirky, detailed picture she painted of each–Calyx, the infertile Llama who surprised Barb one day when she unexpectedly–at least to the humans on the farm–gave birth to a beautiful brown baby llama, Tina the wild turkey that landed on the farm one day when she lost her flock and Stella the thoroughbred mare who taught Barb about trusting her instincts.
And then there was Sarge–the rooster Barb miraculously nursed from unconsciousness– and a loss of his survival instinct–back to life over the course of several weeks and who taught Barb (and each of us) lessons about community, trust and confidence.
The e-mail read, “There was a massacre in my barn last night during the storm. I am sure the sound of the wind drowned out the screams. Sarge, along with several others, died senselessly. Fishers kill not to eat, but just for the sport of it. I am heartbroken. Not sure how to protect my flock.”
I read the e-mail and wrote about eight different responses, all of which I erased. My words seemed flippant, or fell flat, or just couldn’t express what I felt at the moment. Instead I called Barb, knowing that she had already been struggling financially and this incident could be financially devastating in addition to the emotional turmoil and grief she was experiencing.
I asked if she would be comfortable in having me write about her situation and share with my readers–offering us all an opportunity to help Barb with her vision for Frog Hill Farm in Foster, RI. Our donations won’t be tax deductible, but they can help Barb weather this storm–and create her vision of a small farm where everyone can come to learn the lessons these beautiful farm animals have to teach us.
A few minutes ago, I was adding some exercises for this Sunday’s upcoming workshop at All That Matters: Writing for Transformation (Dec. 11). We’ll pick an area of our lives and work with writing to create a shift–and transformation–in that area. We’ll also be exploring the many ways that writing can transform our lives.
Writing this post reminds me of the power of writing to take something bad and turn it into something good. Perhaps the story of the fisher massacre will transform into a story about community–and the good people who helped Barb turn her dream into a vibrant center for learning from our animal friends.