If you’re a current member of a HOPE group or an alum, do you remember your orientation at your first meeting? Many members, even a few weeks after that first meeting, can’t remember a thing that was said. They remember how they felt — the overwhelming emotions that virtually prevented them from speaking, and — also very important — the kindness and compassion of the therapists and mentor who explained the process to come. But what was said? No.

Now, do you remember your first few group meetings — the eyes and faces of those who were almost certainly complete strangers? You may not remember what these strangers said, but you can undoubtedly picture their faces now, because these are the people who became your friends — the people who would have your back no matter what came.

Do you remember the first person who admitted — maybe it was in group two, maybe sooner — that they had asked themselves: “What am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” Can you now imagine not having these people in your life?

There is something strange and powerful and wonderful that occurs when people with a shared type of experience open themselves up and listen to each other’s deepest thoughts and feelings. They bond and help each other to heal in a fashion that is not possible through any other process.

Would you like a different perspective on this process? It’s a perspective that is as uplifting as it is powerful. It involves a man named Ian McGregor who tells a story about a time that he — along with a group of children he was leading on a hike — confronted a bear on the trail and the surprising outcome.

What connection could there possibly be between the opening of this article — meeting strangers in group — and a bear terrorizing some kids? Well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out. It’s eleven minutes long and the connection doesn’t really become clear until the end. Luckily, the first 10 minutes are pretty funny — McGregor is a talented storyteller — so relax and enjoy.