The First Day

back to schoolIt is a scene that is taking place in many families and communities this week and next week.

It is the first day of school – the very first day for a six year old. It is an exciting day – finally getting to go to school like the big kids! But it is a day not without a certain amount of anxiety and fear even for the most enthusiastic child, as Judith Viorst writes in her poem, The First Day of School . . . 

Will they let me go when I need to go to the bathroom?

And what if I get lost on my way back to class?

And what if all the other kids are a hundred, a thousand, a million times smarter than I am?

And what if we have a spelling test or a reading test or an . . . anything test, and I’m the only person who doesn’t pass?

And what if my teacher decides she doesn’t like me?

And what if, all of a sudden, a tooth gets loose?

And what if I can’t find my lunch or I step on my lunch or I drop my lunch down someplace like (oops) the toilet? Will they just let me starve or will someone lend me a sandwich? A cookie? A cracker? An apple? Some juice?

And what if there’s teams, and nobody picks me to play?

And what if I took off my sneakers, and also my jeans, and sweatshirt, and T-shirt?

And started the first day of school on the second day?

We have all been that child – and not just on the first day of school. We often find ourselves in situations where we feel like we are on the outside looking in, removed from the mainstream, alienated from any sense of belonging. Our fear of disaster overwhelms us from realizing the possibilities for growth, for discovery, for good things to happen.

As the young people in our midst return to the classroom, it might be a good time for all us to look at how accepting we are of the people who come into our lives – at home, at work, where we socialize, and even at the parish where we worship. Are we creating a household of love and acceptance? Are we creating a community of reconciliation and peace?

The challenge for us as people of faith is to create a place in our lives and in the places where our lives are lived, so that even the smallest, the youngest, and the least able to contribute are as welcomed and honored as would Christ himself.

During the next two weeks I invite you to intentionally pray that every scared six year old – of whatever age, in whatever “school yard” – find reassurance and support in the “homeroom” of our love and compassion.

To slow down my life a little, through Labor Day I will be blogging every other week – so my next blog will be on September  3rd.

Question – Can you identify a time or place where you felt like you were on the outside looking in – and how or who it was that extended a welcome to you?


August 20th, 2014 |