All My Life’s a Circle

The Patchwork Worship Community Song Book includes a song called “Circles” by Harry Chapin. The lyrics include the lines:

All my life’s a circle, still I wonder why?

Seasons spinning ‘round again, the years keep rolling by.


Seems like I’ve been here before, can’t remember when.

I got this funny feeling we’ll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life, all my roads have bends,

No clear cut beginnings, so far no dead ends.


One thing that makes Patchwork special is the amount of time that we’ve been a part of this neighborhood. Patchwork has been an organization since 1977. We’ve provided activities for children since 1980, which is also the year Patchwork moved into the synagogue on the corner of Washington and 6th. Jane Vickers has led our children’s program since 1995. I first arrived to work in the children’s program as a Mennonite Voluntary Service Worker in 1997.

One of the things I did during my time in MVS was to help Paula write plays. We wrote the first play with a group of other kids and adults when Paula was about 12. Paula went on to write more plays with some guidance from me and the “Patchwork Players” who performed them. Her plays were wonderfully dramatic with kings, queens, dancing Gypsies, temptation from Satan, interventions by Jesus, and main characters who struggle mightily before being redeemed. There were costumes made from what was available and poster board props.

Now Paula is an adult and has been working as an Arts & Smarts Program Assistant for several years. Last week she led a video project funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse Council of Vanderburgh County. She worked with two teens to tell the true story of one young woman’s struggle with substance abuse. Paula helped the teens organize their writing, gave tips to her young actors (including her younger brother!), and helped direct the filming. The kids came up with a story of temptation from Satan, interventions by Jesus, and a main character who struggled mightily before being redeemed. There were costumes made from what was available and poster board props.

It was wonderful for me to watch Paula lead the video project and to think of the “Circles” song. We’ve all grown, we’ve all changed, but we’ve all stayed connected, and things have circled back around in new ways.

With Patchwork’s extended history in this neighborhood, we often find people and events circling back around.

Things came around again last weekend when Patchwork held our annual Back to School Sale at which we sold bags of school supplies for prices much below their actual cost. The crowd waiting to purchase bags has never been bigger than it was last Saturday, and even though we had our usual 180 bags, we sold out before many had their turn to purchase one. Nevertheless, the people in line were grateful. When one parent was asked why she chose to come to Patchwork’s sale rather than one of the free school supply giveaways in town, she said, “Because this is better.”

The contents of the bags were tailored to the different grade levels and included most everything that the school system requires for those grades. Parents could also purchase new socks, underwear, coats, backpacks, and assorted supplies.

Again, I enjoyed seeing people I knew among the crowd and getting an opportunity to visit with them for a little as they patiently waited their turn to pick up the supplies they needed and pay.

Proceeds from families’ purchases will help pay for the supplies we distributed but come nowhere near the total cost of the event. Many thanks to several groups who provided much needed volunteers or funding (or both!) for the Back to School Sale including: Northside Congregational Church, East Side Christian Church, Kohl’s, Green River Kiwanis, the First Presbyterian Women, and several individual donors.

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