Back to school

Pastoral Messages | August 17, 2016

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for school to start each August. One year, my twin sister and I rehearsed our morning routine for several days before our first day back. We got up early, ate breakfast, packed our lunches, and stood in our front yard to wait for the bus at 7:30 a.m. Our backpacks were packed and ready to go next to the front door for at least a week before school started, and I still remember how they bulged into odd rectangle shapes, because of the Kleenex boxes stuffed inside. We were ready, and I couldn’t wait.

As adults, it’s rare to experience the same kind of anticipation. Summer days get long for young kids, and the freedom that tasted so sweet in late May or early June is bland by August. Some kids are eager to get back to their friends at school; others are just bored. Adult life has a totally different set of rhythms. During our working lives, we’re surely never bored for days or weeks at a time. In the age of smartphones, I don’t even have to be bored while I wait for my order to be called at Panera. And I wonder if that’s a good thing. Some studies would suggest it’s not, because evidence suggests we get our most brilliant ideas when we’re bored.

But I’m not concerned about brilliant ideas today. I’m more concerned about a lost sense of anticipation – never looking forward to anything with the same intensity that a child waits for Christmas or with which I used to wait for the first day of school. Maybe back-to-school time is a good time to try to remember what it was that captured our hearts and our imaginations before we grew up and “life” took over. Was there something we couldn’t wait for? The dreams we had for the future – did we pursue them or did we forget them? Maybe because we haven’t been really bored for a long time, maybe because we’ve busied ourselves so much we’ve forgotten to look up and look forward to the next thing. For people of faith, the next thing is always the most exciting.

Ryan Bailey, director of faith formation

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