Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We are here today ...
Today is the first day of school. I dropped off my son to the care of his new teacher and found it hard to just walk away and leave him sitting at his little desk. “This is Jon,” I said to his teacher, who responded with a friendly “Hi, Jon” and turned his attention to something else. I almost blurted out “he likes rockets” because I wanted the teacher realize something about him, something that makes him special, not just another name in a room full of kids.
It was no easier bringing my daughter to her first day of junior high, as I was filled with questions: Why do the kids look so BIG all of a sudden? Didn’t I just bring her home from the hospital? But even though she was nervous, she walked in to her classroom, greeted her teacher in French, found a friend, sat down, and said an unequivocal “bye, mom.” Her confident demonstration of strength under stress was also enough to make me want to cry.
Beginning routines again in September is a way of orienting us again to the order that was placed in the world at the moment of creation. Elementary school classrooms tell us in a hundred different ways “we are here.” Students sit each morning before a bulletin board decked out in bright complementary colors with the basics: today’s month, day, months of the year, numbers, seasons; and also some added information like the letter of the day, special person of the week, who has a birthday, who is absent, and in case you really are keeping track, how many days you’ve been in school so far.
I like the call to remember the rhythms of things—the things that happen every day again no matter what else is uncertain: the date and seasons change, the sun goes up and down again, the months fold over one on top of the other, there are special people who surround us, and patterns in the details of our lives if we pay attention to such things.
We are here today. And no matter what else we may not know, that much is certain. We are here today and there is a world of comfort in the daily-ness of our routines. Routines that speak to an order greater than the smallness of our stories. We are here today, and someone knows where we were yesterday and where we will be tomorrow. We are known, and we are here. That’s a good place to start this fall and a good reason to give thanks.