Going to the upper road: when life says "move on"

I’m going by the upper road, for that

still holds the sun,

I’m climbing through night’s pastures where

the starry rivers run:

If you should think to seek me in my

old dark abode,

You’ll find this writing on the door,

“He’s on the Upper Road.”

Streams in the Desert - July 2

There are times we must move on. We've lived in a place that served a purpose. We've gotten comfortable there. We've had good times there. Yet, there are new travels ahead with a new purpose and new mission.

As we've been talking on my Facebook page about whether we miss our students, I'm struck by the comments of those teachers in transition between schools. Leaving a school must have heartache in it. Every teacher I know who is a great teacher loves their kids and many colleagues at any school - no matter how tough.

My Mom still shows me the platter presented to her when she left her first school. My sister still misses some of her colleagues and talks fondly of her first class at Gwinett County schools near Atlanta. It is part of who we are. Our treasures are not dollars in the bank, but faces that come to mind and the stories that enrich our lives full of meaning. Good teachers are rich. We aren't biding our time, we are building it. When we retire, great teachers have castles of legacy built upon the stories and richness of lives forever changed.

Today, I have lunch with Casey - she's in college and was one of the two students that Thomas Friedman mentioned when he wrote about the Flat Classroom projects in his version 3 of the World is Flat. She is doing great in college and I'm excited to hear her stories. She couldn't stay in her old abode (high school) but had to move on to the upper road (college) and then will move beyond. Like my son who just finished his first college test yesterday in Psychology. The upper road calls.

I'm writing this because many of us educators have transition. We may have to give up coaching a sport and move to another. We may have to give up a club to do another. We may no longer be teaching a subject we love and have to move to one we're not so crazy about. If we're parents, we might even have to let our own child move to their upper road without the baggage of an overly sad parent hanging over their heads. (sniff)

I never want to be the kind of teacher (or parent) who lives in the old, dank abodes of time past - wishing for how it used to be. It used to be hard and it will continue to be hard because that is the profession we have. The profession we have is tough. I pray daily to be like Moses' burning bush to be on fire without burning out (something only God can do, honestly, because teaching is sooooo hard.)

So, teacher, as you face transition - let's move to the upper road with purpose. Let's remember the past abode with joy, but as our bodies move forward, let our hearts and souls move forward too. Let's be fully present in the present - learning from the past but not living there. Let it go and go on.

The upper road calls. I'm packing my bags. Will you?


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