This week is the first day of school not merely for Beve, but for many school districts across the country. The Tuesday after Labor Day almost always marked the end of summer in my childhood as well. The city pool had closed at 8PM on Labor Day and wouldn't open until noon on the last day of school the next year. The university hadn't started yet (which it would years later, shifting so that the semester wisely ends now before Christmas, rather than at the end of January as it did when I was a student), but for all intents and purposes, September has always felt like the beginning of a new year. January 1, the date on which we must begin writing a new year at the end of papers and checks, has always felt slightly arbitrary to me, having spent my entire life in the rhythm of education.
And though each June I was always excited and ready for the summer, by September I could hardly wait for the next year to start. There was a breathless anticipation about what was ahead, partly because I could hardly wait to wear the new clothes and shoes Mom had bought. We always had a very special "First Day of School" outfit, and were always photographed wearing these clothes. I remember some of them...with chagrin, I have to admit. In fifth grade, back when girls had to wear dresses every single day (a rule which changed for the winter months in middle school, and completely the year I started high school), I wore a dress that was green with bright pink roses, and was a full circle from my chest down. I'd been given a perm only a few weeks before by my grandmother at our family cabin at Whidbey, and I'm here to tell you, I was looking...nothing short of ridiculous. And the year I started 9th grade, hot pants were 'in', so my mother made me a pair of mint green ones with a long vest over them. I started the year a few weeks late because of mono, but dutifully wore the outfit my first day. Again, ridiculous.
But the supplies also thrilled me. There's something about a stack of notebooks, fresh pencils, colored pencils, and checking off all the other supplies that always makes my heart sing. There's so much possibility awaiting in those supplies. I could hardly wait to see what would become of them, though because I'm strange, I also hated the first time I had to use an eraser. Something about that first blemish always made me sad. As I write this, I think of Anne of Green Gables saying, "Every day is new with no mistakes in it." Maybe that is what sort of what I mean.
Then there was the reconnecting with friends. I was a highly social creature. And summers didn't afford me the daily contact with friends that school did. In my adult vernacular I'd say that I was glad to get back to my community, but I couldn't have expressed it that way then. I only knew I couldn't wait to see them, to see who I'd have classes with, who I'd have lunch with and all those relational pieces that were paramount in my life.
Beginnings. We have so many in life. New homes, new jobs, new families. Some we look forward to, and some we worry about like we're going to the dentist rather than with the joy and anticipation of a new school year used to be for me. But to take something slightly out of context, we are told that, "In the beginning, God..." And I wonder if there is purpose to the sentence construction. In our beginnings, God. In our beginnings, and the beginnings of our children, God creates. He goes before us and them and whoever else, and works on our behalf. If we allow Him to work. In whatever new season this September is the beginning of, He is laying out clothes--so you will be clothed in His righteousness and able to cope with what comes along. And supplies that will aid you in the work He gives you to do. And a community to fellowship with. God doesn't leave us stranded in the past, in the old worn out clothing, with nubs of pencils, trying to work on scratch paper.
It's all new, and it's beginning--again--in the Kingdom. Let's see what He has in store for us this new year.