All shall be well

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

When I taught seventh and eighth grade English, I frequently attended parent/teacher conferences. At the ages of 12 and 13, most of the students were on the verge of teenage angst. Their hormones were gearing up, their bodies were changing, and the possibilities of romance were either in full bloom or looming on the horizon. Seen through the lens of their current level of understanding, the child’s version of whatever brought their parents to school for a conference was skewed.

“Undoubtedly your child believes what he or she is saying,” I would tell the parents, “But their interpretation is guided by their young mind and the adult, more global view is entirely or partially different.”

When I realized that my students’ interpretations of events were affected by their age, it was a very small leap to realize that all memories are based on one’s experience and age at the time of the occurrence. This is not to deny that some childhood events could have been or were dreadful, but what about other events that still make us frown, events that might have different interpretations?

Cindy and Judy at ages 4 and 6.

This is where it is beneficial to have a sibling or a close, life-long friend to help you along the road. As we have grown older, my sister, Judy, and I have looked at our past together, and have pieced together and are still piecing together, what is worthy of remembrance, what is remembered incorrectly, and what isn’t remembered but should be. It has been an edifying experience.

Me: “Remember that time mother popped my bottom just because I was playing tag with our friends in the basement?”

Judy: “Yes, you had just recovered from pneumonia and mother told you not to get hot.”

Me: “Actually, that was the year I missed 78 days of school and was in and out of the hospital. I’d have popped my bottom, too!”

Me: “Remember when we had a canary named Mikey and one day when daddy was taking a nap, mother let Mikey out of his cage? Mikey flew straight to daddy’s bare chest and started pulling his chest hairs! Daddy woke up with a bang.

Judy: “Oh Lord, I’d forgotten about that. It was so funny!”

How freeing it is to regard my memories through the lens of my life at the time of the occurrence. Was I a small child? A hormonal teen? An overburdened adult? As Judy and I continue to share our memories, we each gain new insights, better perspectives and clearer understandings of our memories. We are less bound, lighter, and more able to shoulder today and face more strongly what is to come.

Six hundred years ago, the mystic Mother Julian of Norwich summed up this feeling of lightness in her book Revelations of Divine Love. She said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” As Judy and I mine our memories, recalling more and more incidents, my feelings of wellness, of lightness, of peace continue to grow. All shall be well, Mother Julian, all shall be well indeed.

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell


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