The First Day – We’ve All Been There

new2It 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 (oops!) drop my lunch down someplace like 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 it they say, “Do this,” and I don’t understand them?

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

And what if I took off my sneakers, and also my socks, and 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. Then, someone nods their head, extends a hand, and with a smile says, “Hello.”  All of a sudden we begin to relax and a feeling of peace replaces the butterflies that are in our stomach.

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

Today, some of the people who come into our lives have come from other countries looking for peace, security or a new beginning – they come from Korea, India, Mexico, China, El Salvador, and South America; they are our “new immigrants.” All of them have come to the United States just like many of our ancestors did when they left Italy, Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Puerto Rico, Philippines, or Ukraine in years gone by. Do we see these “new immigrants” as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Created in the image and likeness of God? Or, do we see them in some other way?

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 day in and day out, so that even the smallest, the youngest, the least able to contribute, and the “new immigrants” among us are as welcomed and honored as would Christ himself.

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

A reminder to those who live around Saint John Bosco Parish in Parma Heights – that our International Festival begins this Thursday, August 17 and continues through Sunday, August 21. Everything happens on our property – 6480 Pearl Road in Parma Heights. There will be amazing fireworks at dusk on Friday, August 20 by “Lite the Nite Pyrotechnics”. The Grand Prize drawing – with a cash prize of $10,000.00 is on Sunday evening. Know that you are invited to join us any day of our Festival – whether you live nearby or have to drive a little bit in order to get here. I hope to see you at the Festival. In my opinion, it really is the place to be in the Parma Heights, Brook Park and Middleburg Heights his weekend. You’ll find great music, delicious ethnic foods, games of chance, and all kinds of fun and excitement.  By the way – please say a prayer for comfortable, seasonable weather this weekend.

To slow down my life a little during these summer months, I am blogging every three weeks through September – so my next blog will be on September 7th.

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 17th, 2016 |