As a former teacher and principal, and, for that matter, student, I miss the sounds of the first day of school – squeals of recognition, the clatter of books falling from lockers, the roar of a hallway as students hurry to the next teacher while still connecting with friends they may not have seen for three months, the unique quiet of a high school when classes are in session.
On a deeper level, I have been pondering how children around the globe will be received on their first day of school. For a moment I imagine myself a teacher again, waiting for my new students to arrive.
Am I going to remember that Johnny had a bad temper on the playground last spring, or am I going to greet only the sweet boy I know that His Father-Mother God (and his mom and dad) sees him to be?
Will I anticipate the need to break up the clique of five little girls who play only with one another on the playground every year, or will I see, coming through the door, inclusive, generous, openhearted ambassadors who themselves are eager to greet a whole new group of friends and make them feel welcome?
Am I going to see myself as the teacher who always goes over the top for the annual art show, as if it is a reflection on her own creativity and sense of organization and style? Or am I going to let myself grow more generous and flexible, ready to see this year's art show as more fully representing the breadth, creativity, and individuality brought by each teacher and student?
From superintendents to school bus drivers, there are those of us who yearn to feel the peace of knowing that at every turn, we'll be governed by and guided with a divine hand.
And students ... students hope. They hope that this year they will, as one child recently said to me, "find out I am smarter than I remembered to be last year." They will hope, and hope, and hope that they will have friends, that the teacher will call on them, that they will have become stronger at kickball, that they will not be asked by the music teacher to "mouth the words."
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, recognized the connection between hope and spirituality when she wrote, "Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 298).
If there is one quality I think is most present in the hallways, classrooms, gyms, lunchrooms, auditoriums, and playgrounds on the first day of school, it is this kind of hope.
So today, as I cherish the first day of school from my office, I will pray that hopes are realized. That hope springs eternal, that hope is not just the absence of apathy, but the presence and power of the Divine pointing the way toward what our all-powerful God is promising to each of us for this year: "For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth" (Ps. 71:5).
May every "first day of school" hope be fulfilled by the presence of goodness, grace, and affection – with the gifts of intelligence, flexibility, joy, appreciation, thoughtfulness, strength, and purity.
Ye shall go out with joy,
and be led forth with peace:
the mountains and the hills
shall break forth before you
and all the trees of the field
shall clap their hands.