Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Contemplating Loss

The passing of Whitney Houston dominated much of the entertainment news this past week, especially as it came on the eve of the Grammy Awards. A remembrance of Harvey Korman on the anniversary of his birth fell next to her obituary in the newspaper. A former co-worker’s son died. All three had me contemplating the impact of loss.

Word of Whitney Houston’s death came as I was listening to the posthumous release from Amy Winehouse. The connections did not escape me. I remembered Whitney as much of the soundtrack of my college years while Winehouse’s music provided the soundtrack for the past few years. Despite the beauty and connections that come through the music, and as so many memories connect to the music of the moment, I never connected to either of these two artists behind the songs.

Perhaps it was that the messiness of their lives distracted from the passion of the music.

Perhaps they were just too far away from reality to really matter.

The remembrance of Harvey Korman struck a deeper chord within me as the article on the 85th anniversary of his birth (and four years after his death) highlighted some of the deepest belly laughs I have ever had in my life. His roles in sketch comedy genuinely brought out the laughter. I mourned his death in 2008 as much as I laughed at the replays of the skits.

Perhaps it was because he seemed like a real person whose comic escapades seemed to be an extension of his normal life.

Perhaps it was because I am too often the straight-man to my Tim Conway friends.

Word that the son of a former co-worker had died hit most deeply. I barely knew the young man from years ago in church and through working with his mother. Knowing his parents, grandparents, and older brother naturally personalized the death compounding the sadness of losing someone at such a young age.

Perhaps it was because of the hometown connection.

Perhaps it was because I work with young people and the loss of even one reminds me to do all I can to protect all youth.

Contrary to what might be expected, contemplation of the different deaths and their impact did not lead to morose moping, rather they led to a spiritual meditation that moved me into the spirit of Lent. Just as the three deaths moved me in drastically different ways, it moved me to think of loss and sacrifice in our lives.

Profoundly different, loss and sacrifice both fit in the Lenten season. As I consider the sacrifice I will make in consideration of the sacrifice God made for us at Easter, I look back to losses and what they have meant in my life. I compare them to the sacrifices. Losses always take a greater toll.

Sacrifice results from a choice I make.

Loss happens whether I choose it or not.

The three deaths I have been pondering all week long help drive home the distinction. Despite the various levels of connection, there is not at death I would choose for any of the individuals involved.

As I enter Lent, I enter questioning whether there is anything I can sacrifice that equals the loss God must have felt when His Son suffered crucifixion. While I will consider my sacrifice, I will, in this season, continue to consider loss.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Routine II

Even on the weekend, I generally wake up at my normal time of 5:00 a.m. I have done it for so many years that my body rises to consciousness regardless of when my alarm clock goes off. I actually enjoy the early rise on weekends. While many people look forward to the time to sleep in, I look forward to the quiet.

A cup of coffee (well, two pots) and news on the radio let me slip into the day with ease instead of rushing into it from the moment I awake. I start laundry, read headlines, and catch up with twitter and other social media. Even the noise around the neighborhood and from the airport is lacking during the early morning hours.

Now that football season is over, getting up early also gives me the chance to nap in the afternoon, a luxury reserved only for special days.

Due to the hectic nature of my schedule in the coming months and this being the last unscheduled weekend until May, I have enjoyed the early mornings to make the absolute most of my free time – and the nap to give me a little rest going into the week. My house is mostly clean and all my meals are prepared and packaged for the week, so I can head to bed relaxed and ready to step into a busy week.

Now I just have to keep it all together.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

No-Zero Grading Policy In Lowndes County Schools Require Retesting Opportunities For Failing Students (UPDATED)

This school district gets it! By refusing to accept zeros and demanding that students complete assignments and re-do them until they are acceptable reinforces the concept that students can (and will) learn and no longer gives the teachers the option of "giving up" on students. I just hope that teachers will not give in and start giving students the minimum 60 on the grading scale to avoid the work of honestly and effectively evaluating student progress.

As a professional school counselor (I'll expand that later), I am shocked at each grading period to see students with grades in the single digits and teens. Such grades are a recipe for growing drop-0uts.

No-Zero Grading Policy In Lowndes County Schools Require Retesting Opportunities For Failing Students (UPDATED):

I pray the teachers in Lowndes get the message being sent by their administration that all students are expected to be successful and that it is their job to move students toward success.