Joy, Grief, and Prayer (or A Reflection on the First Day of School)

The quiet is profound.  After a summer full of little voices chattering and little feet pounding through the house, I’m now hearing birds and locusts and Henrik’s soft breathing as he takes his first undisturbed nap in months.


There is a moment there, when the school bus starts to pull away from the curb and my children’s faces are framed in those windows smiling down at me that I fight a wave of panic.  “No!  Come back!  Aack!”

This even while knowing that they have wonderful, kind friends at school.  That their teachers are excellent, compassionate people, and that the classes are not over-crowded, but rather cozy and intimate.  There’s so much not to fear.  I see the joy and excitement in my children’s faces; I saw it when they picked a blue folder over a green one, when they slipped on new shoes this morning, when they chatted with friends yesterday at the school’s open house.  They were, and are, rip-roaring-ready.

I’m so intensely glad for them.  So grateful, down to my marrow grateful, that they can attend such a great school.  It’s strange, though, in any sort of change, even changes that are blessings, there can be a sense of loss.  The loss of their vibrant presence had me swallowing my coffee past a lump of emotion in my throat.  I have no doubt that we are all gaining by this parting, but it is hard.  Which got me thinking.

What of the mamas sending their kids out to a school that’s under-funded and over-crowded?  What of the mamas who know that their kid is likely to be bullied again this year or is a bully to others, or who knows that their junior high daughter is being swayed to try dangerous behaviors by her closest friends?  What of the mamas who know their child is addicted and that school friends are his suppliers?  What of mamas who have to send their kids into a school known for gang violence?

I’m betting they’re doing a whole lot more praying and a whole lot less self-pity with their coffee.  And I should too, because we really don’t know what our kids will face each day, do we?

Father of all mercies
We ask that you would bless
the youngest and littlest of learners,
the most helpless and powerless of persons,
with Your infinite and loving mercy,
granting them the strength to learn, concentrate,
and act in love towards
their teachers and fellow students.
We also ask that You would watch over them,
at home and at school
and give them proper direction
so that they may learn
of Your wonderful virtues.
We ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen
-David Bennett


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