Return Again: The Fabric of Who We Are

I have the great joy of students across now almost 30 years who want to stay in touch with me. (I like staying in touch with them, but I always allow that to be their choice–sometimes, you just need to move on beyond schools and teachers!).  In the last few days I have had dinner with former students, traded Facebook messages with former students around birthdays, jobs, babies and relationships. I have had a private conversation with a student who is going through some major life transitions. Yesterday, a student from last year came by my room, just to say hello and tell me about his summer.  And, right now, I am witnessing my own current school community deal with the recent deaths of three students.

Every contact, every exchange is a kind of return for me–to some degree to those years and experiences I have had with students, but much more so to this image that keeps presenting itself to me–to the fabric of our lives. Hearing their stories, seeing their faces, listening to the pain and joy.  There is a tenderness that runs deep and wide through me, through us.  It’s like a single thread in woven cloth.  We rarely take time to notice the single threads without which there would be no cloth, no clothing, no sheets and blankets. But just pull one of those threads–just pull one of those threads out of the whole and you see the potential for the whole thing to fall apart.

When I return to any single thread, I witness not only the beauty, the comedy, the tragedy, the tenderness, fragility and the strength of that single thread, but I see the whole, our common life together, humanity, life on earth.  I see its beauty, its comedy, its tragedy, the tenderness that runs deep and wide through it all.

Today, we can allow ourselves to return–to a single thread of the fabric of our lives, to a single life, and allow it to show us the beauty and the power of the whole.

Bob Patrick

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