May 21 was a very special day for the Class of 2022 from my school. Graduation day. Faculty and staff in my district worked diligently for the past thirteen years to ensure that this day would happen for our students. I know their families are excited and feeling bittersweet emotions connected to a day of commencement. I am proud of these graduates, and following tradition, I wrote a poem for my students and shared it with them earlier in the week before their ceremony. Actually, this year’s poem turned into a second one as well. The message is the same, but my advice moved into a personal connection in the 2.0 version.
My grandmother kept succulents, known as mother hen and chicks in our family. Even though she passed when I was four years old, I have always felt a connection to her through these plants. I took a few from the home my grandfather shared with her when I married and started my life as an adult. Since then, I’ve had descendants from her plants at every home my husband and I have inhabited, and I’ve given away hundreds of them because sharing makes the original plants more prosperous. I imagine that’s how my grandmother’s love is still moving through me. That’s how love works.
Each member of my current class of graduates received a chick from my home. They carried those little babies around all day, caring for them already. Likewise, I want my students to know that God loves them and cares for them with great strength.
My prayer is for my words to be encouraging and be a reminder to all who read them. The poems are to honor the Class of 2022, but I hope they can be a blessing to all readers.
To this year’s second period gang, Congratulations, my loves!
You Know I Tell You the Truth 1.0 The days and months and years that lay ahead of you will be full of challenges. You will make plans and work to fulfill dreams of which only some will come to fruition. Problems will be in those future days. You will believe the best of life will come when you finish school or fall into a new love or become healthier or secure the new job. But don’t trust those lies whether you say them or someone tries to convince you. You can’t just be anything you want to be. You won’t save another person from their own choices. You shouldn’t expect flowers and rainbows to fill your universe with opportunity. You won’t see a perfect path paved and ready for your diligent and sincere efforts to shape the life you intend to live. This old world is far bigger and treacherous and set in its ways than you can imagine. You might search for an item or a guru or a pill when the pressure lays on your lungs. If your mind is passive, you will struggle to breathe the next breath. You know I tell you the truth. So, what’s the plan to survive in the next moments or days or months or years? A secret I know can help you. Will you commit to an active, attentive mind? A turn from frivolous notions, from a passive observation of yourself? When you think …your efforts should guarantee success …other people keep you from gaining ground …the world’s red tape and rules force you into a holding pattern …your gossip and drama are harmless …all of the pressures push against you, then Change your conduct which will Change your thinking which will Change your feelings which creates Hope. Prove your hope against whatever the world throws at you by first changing your own actions. The secret of hope is more powerful than the darkness of this world. Overcome the hard seasons and cling to hope and family and joy even in the middle of difficult times. You don’t need to conform to your past ignorance, squeezed into the culture around you. You don’t have to worry about being liked or noticed or powerful. Choose actions that prove your knowledge and character. Choose to be kind and loving and honorable. Help without being asked. Show others patience and honesty and sincerity. I promise that in your future, bad events will happen, so don’t be surprised or angry or hurt. Humans flounder. In these moments, you can turn negative into hope, respond with gentleness and respect, be different from the crowd. I don’t subscribe to the secret of hope at times. In the misery of problems, my actions take my mind into a dark place where my emotions suffocate me. I can’t find hope in this place, and you won’t find it there, either. So, focus your actions to direct your mind and emotions and find your hope. Hope is the answer. You are on this fast-spinning earth for a reason. You have a mission and a group of people who need you. Your butterfly effect will change the world. You know I tell you the truth. Lori Vandeventer May 15, 2022 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Truth 2.0: The Mother Hen and Chicks The mother hen sat alone waiting. Her chicks would soon depart, and she wondered what she would tell them about challenges, plans, and work to fulfill dreams of which only some will come true. She is certain of future trials for her chicks, certain some will believe the old lies of how the best of life will finally arrive--when they crack open from the shell or fall into a new love or roam far from the safety of her wings. The mother hen knows to not trust those lies no matter whose hungry mouths say the words. This old world is far bigger and treacherous and set in its ways than any chick can imagine. So, what’s the plan to survive in the next moments or days or months or years? A secret the mother hen knows. Requiring an active, attentive mind, a turn from frivolous notions, from a passive observation. A change of conduct will change thinking which will change feelings which creates Hope. The secret of hope is more powerful than the darkness of this world. The mother hen knows to choose actions of knowledge and character, of kindness and love and honor. She wants her chicks to help without being asked, to show patience and honesty and sincerity. Future, bad events will happen to her chicks. Still, she doesn’t want them surprised or angry or hurt. In these moments, the negative can turn into hope if her chicks respond with gentleness and respect, differently from the crowd. As the mother hen sits alone, she remembers when she didn’t subscribe to the secret of hope. In the misery of problems, her actions led into a dark place where emotions suffocated. Neither mother hens nor chicks find hope in that place. But, she knows how it feels to focus actions, direct her mind and emotions and find hope. She knows that her chicks will sprout up, peeking, at first, and then pushing through to surround her, filling the space with beauty. Her chicks, smart and capable, will continue, circle after circle, to choose actions and adjust their thinking to settle their emotions into hope. Hope is the answer. Her chicks are on this fast-spinning earth for a reason with a mission. And the mother hen knows their butterfly effect will change the world. Lori Vandeventer May 15, 2022