Norman Knight: Change can be good for you

To live is to grow and to grow is to change. Not sure of the origin of that thought, but it has a ring of truth to it.

I picture our garden. If a plant isn’t growing, it will soon be gone which, I guess one could argue, is a way to change. I mention gardens because Becky and I have been talking recently about how we help each other grow and change and because this Sunday we plan to sing a song at our church about neighbors.

But maybe I should back up.

From the beginning of our time together the two of us have been suggesting ideas that require growth and change. One example: Just after I retired from teaching school, Becky saw a notice in the newspaper announcing the Johnson County Extension Office would be offering Master Gardener classes through Purdue University. “I’d like to do that, but I am still working,” she said. “You could take it and when I retire, I could take it. Then we’d both be Master Gardeners.”

So I signed up and completed the course. Later on she did the same. I say this because I would have never on my own considered taking such a class, but I am glad I did.

Another example: Also from the beginning of our time together, I started going with her to the church she attended. I was big-time unchurched back then, but I went because she did. She also played in the Crystal Ringers, the church’s bell choir. I would help carry and set up the tables and tote the heavy cases of bells. Not too long after I started, Becky suggested I might like to take a shot at playing. I remember the director said, it would just be temporary. That was 17 years ago. Considering I couldn’t really read music when I started, I have grown much over that time.

Over the years I became more involved in playing guitar during the worship music portion of church service. I find myself hearing a song and wondering if it might work as a “church song.” At first, I would do a solo with just my guitar. After just a short while, though, I started imagining doing songs with an additional harmony voice. I knew Becky could sing because since the beginning of our time together I would play guitar and she would play piano and sing. She was reluctant, however, when I first suggested we do a song together at church. Becky loves to harmonize and has a good feel for it, but says doesn’t feel comfortable being out in front performing — even with the Crystal Ringers she plays the bells in the back row. She knows she can do it, but she doesn’t feel the need. Still, I persisted. I would play a song, and she would start harmonizing, and I would say, “We should do this.” Eventually, we started singing at church. I think it makes her happy that we sing together.

Recently, I heard a song by Nashville songwriter J.J. Heller called “Neighbor” that I think just might have been a message for me.

Last fall our local methodist church began the challenge and privilege of sponsoring a refugee family from Africa. After completing the paperwork the governments and various agencies required, church members got them settled into their new home. This Sunday the family will be attending our church for the first time. The Crystal Ringers will be playing. Also, Becky and I are working on “Neighbor.”

One lyric that has resonated with me, especially in these tumultuous times goes:

Oh, to fear the unfamiliar

Is the easy way to go

But I believe we are connected

More than we might ever know.

And later:

May my heart be an open door

To my neighbor

You are my neighbor.

I trust and believe these new changes and the resulting growth will be good for all involved.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]