Morning Prayer 37/100. Scratch outs

“Scratch outs. It’s important to hold the line on scratch outs.”

Scratch outs

Scratch outs

Speaking was the department chairperson at the school where I began as an English teacher. He went on to explain that no paper was to be accepted if scratch outs that were total blackouts of a word or phrase. “Only single line scratch outs can we accept.”

That seemed severe, but I was new so I accepted it.

Until I confronted papers handwritten by 7th and 8th graders.

Most papers handed in were not riddled with cross outs. However when there was one, it was normally a heavy handed cross out, many lines totally hiding the misspelling or the improper usage.

I was supposed to return the paper, instruct the student that it was to be rewritten with no cross outs with more than a single line mark through.

Quickly I sense that for 12-13 year-olds, showing a mistake to the public (aka, one’s classmates and teacher) was emotionally wrenching. I understood. I was young enough then to remember being adolescent and ashamed of even the slightest error. In fact, had I not already progressed to typewrite and white-out for almost all my writing, I might have still obliterated every handwritten error under complete ink blots.

40 years later. I’ve no idea of the evolution of the department chairperson’s edicts. Like everyone’s, my writing evolved from typewriter to computer and so errors are pointed out automatically and vanish with a single click. I do still keep handwritten journals, lots of them.

Scratch outs

Scratch outs

And in them I write fast and so I make lots of mistakes. Recently I noticed that I use the headmaster’s no-no: the single-line strike out. And it’s for a reason I hadn’t thought through. It’s just happened. My writing hadn’t become mistake-free, for sure. But I have.

Mistake-free doesn’t only mean “without error.” It can also mean being free with my mistakes. That can mean being unrestrained in accepting them, admitting them, recognizing them, and even appreciating them — for what they let me learn.

So the single strike through lets me retain (and not repeat) the error. And that goes far beyond writing. The errors that I’ve made need not be hidden, wiped out, or painted over. They still give me lots to learn.

Maybe that’s what the department chair intended.

Teacher of Love and Joy,
I thank you for letting me know
I need not blot out all the errors
I have made.
I thank you for reminding me
all I can learn from mistakes.
I thank you most of all for filling me
with the wonderful truth
from forgiving myself,
from forgiving my Self.
A simple mark through lets me remember
it was an error
and lets me mark it out
and still see the good that I can take.
Thank you, Teacher, for releasing me
from the frustration of inking over every trace
of mistakes and letting them speak more loudly
from behind their ink covering.
Thank you for your Love and Joy.
And so it is. Amen.

Love and blessings,



Posted on September 22, 2015 at 5:30 am by Tim · Permalink
In: Change, Happiness, Inner Peace, Joy, Love, Oneness, Prayer · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,