One of the delights of this time of year is speaking with young people who are in their last days of summer vacation. Part of the pleasure is to hear about their summer activities — special events, what they enjoyed most, whom they visited, etc.
Sometimes, that requires a bit of work. You know the experience: Where did you go? No place. What did you do? Nothing. But, if you ask a few questions, more fulsome accounting is not unusual. And, that can lead to some interesting conversations about activities that really interest them.
The other part of those encounters that I enjoy comes when you ask if they are happy about going to school. Some answer immediately with “yes” or “no.” But I find that the majority of the kids hedge a bit. They don’t come down hard either way. They’ll say such things as “I guess” or “It’s not so bad.” To me it seems in most cases that, while our young are reluctant to end vacation, they rather look forward to going to school again. I have always thought that this is so because they’re back with their friends again, they re-engage in a variety of studies and other activities that stretch them and enrich them. Many like the challenge represented by their return to school because they understand that it is a significant element in their maturing process.
As I write, I realize that I may be projecting my own inner musings onto my young friends. The truth is that I loved the summer and deeply appreciated vacation, retreat and a break from the schedule of meetings that fills the rest of the year. All of those rejuvenated my spirit and allowed a chance in relative peace to unpack and think about the events of the year, to reflect on the year that lies ahead.
The fact is that I am excited about the resumption of post-Labor Day activity; and, that excitement is rooted in reasons much like those that I think make young people happy to return to school. Although well beyond school age, I still look forward to being back in regular touch with co-workers and many people from around our diocese who give their time, talent and energy to the service of the Lord and this local church. Their friendship and example continually inspire and teach me. How? They teach and inspire when they work together to help us meet the challenges of the day and to explore constructive paths into the future.
One of the lessons that I learn from such experience — indeed, from the experience of the years — is the importance of community. By that I mean the companionship and witness of people who have heard the call to follow Christ, who in response to that call seek to imitate the Lord in their word and work.
Such individuals don’t speak a great deal about such things. They focus on the needs of others and apply their gifts to help improve the lives of those whom they are serving. They are content, in other words, to let their actions speak for them. And, I think that they find peace in their knowledge that the Lord knows what they do and why they do it — and is very pleased with it.
I am not going back to class this week but I do re-enter an environment in which God continually teaches me through the challenges of daily living and, especially, through the goodness of the people among whom I am privileged to serve.
Correction: I made reference in my Aug. 19-20 “Along the Way” to St. Mary’s, Retsof. It is St. Lucy’s, Retsof. I knew better before, during and after the writing but somehow the error got into print. My apologies.
Peace to all.