One of my most favorite fall activities is the purchasing of school supplies. Even though our kids are high school students, I still love perusing the ads, seeing who has the best deal on that TI-84 graphing calculator (I have no idea how these work), who has BOGOs, the lowest prices on pens, notebooks, paper, etc. Finding out who their teachers are, the schedule of classes, what lunch period they have, picking first day of school outfits – all of these are markers of a new school year, the beginning of a new season.
For all of us, a new school year, whether we are parents, teachers, administrators, nurses, social workers, bus drivers, coaches, janitorial staff, or some combination of these roles or others, brings hopes and worries about what the year will hold. And this year, in this year where most of our schools will begin with remote learning and where all of our schools will look and feel very different, we have new worries and new concerns. Is my school safe? Will I or my child get sick? Will my child learn? How will I teach online? The list goes on and on. And for me, these questions are overlaid with a perpetual sense of existential angst that alternates between anger and deep sadness about what we’ve lost and how we’ve failed our young people and educators. Perhaps you’ve felt the same.
A few weeks ago when exchanging texts with my daughters’ high school swim team coach, I was texting about how angry I was, how worried I was for my kids, how sad and hopeless I was feeling. And he texted me this, “Say the Lord’s Prayer with reverence. It always helps.” His reminder to pray changed my day, and the days since. When the news of the day feels overwhelming, when I wonder if plans for the school year will ever come, I stop and I pray. “With the bread we need for today, feed us.” (Lord’s Prayer, New Zealand Prayer Book). With the bread I need for today, feed me! God will give me what I need today. And that is enough.
I’d love to learn how you are experiencing the start of this new year, and I’d love to talk about how we as a community might respond prayerfully, pastorally, and programmatically to each other and our neighbors. Please join me next Thursday, August 27 from 7:30-9 PM on Zoom (meeting link) for prayer, conversation, and strategizing about these issues. I look forward to sharing some time together.