School is back in session! The boys and I tried to live it up on our last day: some X-box while I went for a bike ride, lunch at one of their favorite places, golf for Youngest while Eldest was at football practice, and then dinner and a movie. Youngest did the shopping: pizza rolls, garlic toast pizza, and “fancy” pizza (i.e.: not the 3/$10 type). The weather actually felt like summer rather than the fall-like weather we had last week. Overall, I think it was a good day.
But tonight as my boys were going to bed (under minor protest since it was at least an hour earlier than they have for the last few months), I could tell something was bothering Youngest. After several drinks of water, he finally told me why: “I feel like the summer was wasted.”
As the last weekend and finally the last day of “summer” pass by, there is the melancholy of lost opportunity. Of course this summer wasn’t wasted – the boys were busier than I was with all sorts of fun things. But in Wisconsin, we dream of summer during months of snow and bitter temperatures. We have such hopes and plans for these brief months – you wouldn’t think it comes around every year. And every year when school begins again, there is a bit of sadness that the warmth and freedom of summer are gone.
Youngest and I both know that we had a good summer – and we both expect a good school year. But being on the precipice as one season shifts into another still brings those lingering doubts of whether you lived that season of your life to the fullest. Is there an opportunity we missed that we may never get again? Did we enjoy the days while we were in the midst of them or did we move too quickly to the next activity?
The answers are probably yes. But I think that’s OK as long as there are also memories of time well spent, conversations you took the time to have, and the moments that took you by surprise. Whether your schools start today or weeks ago, take time to make a memory, have a conversation, or capture a moment. Because this season will end before you know it and summer will be here again.
This post was first published on September 2, 2014:
Today is the first day of school. It’s not the first day of school ever. Or the first day at a new school. Today is really just like any other day.
Except that it’s not.
When I was a kid, I used to look forward to the first day of school. I loved the new backpack and the new school supplies. I spent hours deciding which new outfit I was going to wear on the first day (and the second). I loved to learn (and still do). Each first day of the school year was full of potential of new friends and new experiences.
“I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (CEB)
God of Hope, today is the first day of something new. For students who are filled with excitement – may it overflow to those who may be filled with worry. For students who feel that no one cares – assure them that they are on your mind today and every day. For students who do not know peace in their homes – may their classrooms be a sanctuary where your peace can be planted. For students who feel overwhelmed by loneliness, learning difficulties, or fear – may they hear a word of hope for today, tomorrow and in their future to come.
The schools have been cleaned, polished, refurbished, and decorated for today. They are like a feast that has been laid out, just waiting for the guests to arrive. Custodial staff have been working hard to prepare buildings and grounds. Teachers have already been pulled from summer vacation and summer schedules to prepare for today and the 179 days to come. Administrators have already welcomed parents and students at registration. Bus drivers have practiced their routes.
Jesus said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. – Luke 10:2 (NRSV)
Rabbi, Teacher, you have called laborers to be teachers to our children. We give you thanks for their creativity and dedication; for their patience and teaching skills; for their presence with our children; for the knowledge they impart. We ask that you give teachers encouragement and provide the resources they need to live out their vocation. We also thank you for those we don’t always notice but whose work and care made our schools ready to receive our children. May every person who contributes to the education of our children feel valued – and help us to show our appreciation today and in the days to come.
The excitement of the first day of school wears off pretty quickly. Kids spend half the days of the year in school, so the first day of school soon melts into just any other day. New clothes will come home with stains or tears – or not even fit in a month or two. Shiny lunch boxes will be lost. Pencils will soon be eraser-less. Intentions to study harder, to make new friends, to try a new sport or activity will fade into a routine schedule.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)
Spirit of New Life, we are thankful you have made this day. May we continue to find excitement and energy for this school year even as the newness of today begins to fade. May any apprehension for today become a witness to your faithfulness. May we welcome the opportunity that each day brings to rejoice and be glad even in our everyday comings and goings.
Today is the first day of school and it’s like any other day. Except that it’s not. Each day is the next first day of who we are becoming. May your today be filled with rejoicing of what has been, what is, and what is yet to come.