Sunday, August 3, 2014


Everything in life is changing.
Change is a constant companion-- a traveler in life's journey with me.

Do you feel that way too?

If you are a teacher, I know you must.
Common Core. Teacher Evaluation. Merit Pay. Tenure. Health Care Insurance. Accountability.  The list of ever-changing realities for teachers goes on and on.

But I am not just talking about education and teaching.
If you are human, I know you  feel it.

Everything changes.

This year began with me taking my father to the emergency room on January 2 .  He died later in that same month on January 29.

These are the posts that I wrote in the midst of this difficult time.
The Waiting Place                                                              
Breathing: Inhalation and Inspiration
The Measure of the Man: Tribute to My Father       

Change--big changes in my family, in my life.

My church does not have a priest right now.  Our regular priest had a stroke two years ago and retired.  Our interim priest who has been with us these past two years has now retired, as well.  And although our search committee is working hard and reports positive progress, there will be an undefined gap before the new priest comes.  In the meantime we will float in the supply priest pool.

Change--big changes in my place of worship and my spiritual community.

The Benefit Bank  at my church (a program through the Mid-Ohio Foodbank), with which I am a trained counselor, is also in a state of  uncertainty, in an effort to figure out how to better serve our community.

Change-- necessary changes in how we most effectively reach folks most in need..

The Columbus Area Writing Project, of which I am one of the co-directors, is reconsidering and reformulating how we can best operate and serve our teachers.

And that is just a sampling of changes in my personal world.

I haven't included the obvious changes that affect all of us and our communities locally and globally-- politics, climate,  economy,  foreign relations, wars ... and more.

Each of us could make a list and keep adding ... and adding.

Change is happening all around us

As I ponder all the changes taking place in my own life, I can't help but think about all the changes taking place in the lives of students this summer and as they return to school.

Their families may have changed-- a new sibling added, a parent leaving, a pet dying.
They may have moved to a new house, a new neighborhood, a new school.
Their bodies are changing, growing, developing--naturally.
Or there may be an illness--their own or someone close.

Changes--big and small.  Students will bring them into the school, into the classroom, into their processes of learning and discovering and interacting with others.

Where in the curriculum and in our classrooms is there place and space for acknowledging changes-- positive or negative?

How do we present changes to our own children, to our students, to our writers?

What good can come of acknowledging, thinking and talking about change, and writing about change?

As we consider all the changes we are encountering, we just may be surprised to find an unchanging element or two.

No matter how many changes are taking place in our lives and in the world, if we look carefully, we can find a  constant. It may be a person, a place, an activity, an object--- a thread that we can follow through the modifications and alterations, reformations,  transitions and transformations,  shifts, and  turns of life.

William Stafford writes about this thread in his poem The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change.  But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

What is is the thread you follow?

For me, I think that thread, that constant is writing and poetry, reading and books.

It is also my best friend, who has been with me for every major and minor event in my life for the past forty years.

And it is my family and their unwavering love and loyalty.

What do you hold onto in the midst of change?

Jacqueline Woodson tells of two things to which her family held onto through generations.

In Show Way,  the thread is a quilt, each square stitched by Woodson's ancestor with love, to show the way to freedom, to show the way out of slavery.

The quilt, passed down, to each new generation, passed on this thread of love, of persistence, of skill, of pride to each new girl-child until it was given to Woodson.

In This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration, her family also  held onto a rope-- the rope her grandmother found beneath an old tree-- a rope she skipped, the rope that tied the few things they owned to the top of a car as they migrated north from South Carolina-- a rope that continued to weave its way through the life in her family... as each new generation found new uses for the rope.

To what does you family hold onto, during times of movement and transition and change?

What thread do you follow?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Reflect on recent or ongoing changes in your life.
What constant thread weaves through those changes?
To what are you holding onto in your time of change?

Write a poem or personal narrative about the changes in your life and the threads that are woven through your life that are sustaining you.

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