When school starts, summer ends.
Well, not technically, as we all know summer officially ends Sept. 21. But for all intents and purposes, summer as we know it is history. For many of us, Labor Day has also been a traditional marker of the end of summer and once upon a time, school didn’t start until after Labor Day. But times have changed.
Speaking of change, our family feels a significant shift when summer ends. Gone are the lazy, carefree days of summer, spent at the pool, the beach or the park. Sweeping into the picture in their place is the return of structure and schedules, including school, homework and evening and weekend sports activities or other events.
Just yesterday, my oldest daughter, who will be fifth grade, bemoaned the fact that she had to get up at 8 a.m. for a field hockey practice. “No one is up this early!” she said to my wife, who quickly responded, “In two days from now, you’ll be in school at this time!”
Another marking of the impending end of summer is the family vacation or getaway – better known as “The Last Hurrah”. The Heathcott clan took a few days recently to head to Rehoboth Beach for a little R&R to wrap up the summer season before the start of school and schedules.
As we walked up and down the boardwalk and in and out of shops, I thought about the summer that was soon ending, while simultaneously thinking about the hopes and dreams for my children for the new school year. While enjoying the present moment, I was caught between thinking of days gone by and days that lie ahead.
Change gives us a chance to be reflective – to look back and look ahead at the same time. I thought about how the seasons of life continually change. As children, we go from no school to grade school to high school and beyond. As adults, we move from living in our parents’ homes to breaking out on our own to go to school and work out in the “real” world.
Speaking of the real world, we are living through a time of immense and in many ways, unprecedented change. Like never before, our Catholic faith and religious freedoms are under attack. Much of Europe is bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy as the global economy sinks daily. Here at home, our economy is failing, our country’s debt is at a record high and unemployment has been so bad for so long that many have simply given up on looking for jobs. Personally, I understand the struggle and disappointment of job hunting as I have been in transition between jobs for a few months.
Yet through it all, we know that while change can be good, it is often times difficult. Alas, however, it is a part of life. In one way or another, we are always in transition and it is during those times when we feel stress or fear that God carries us through the forest of uncertainty.
As I celebrate yet another birthday tomorrow, I thank God for the gift of another year of life while knowing that the only thing certain in the year to come is change. I have always thought my birthday provided a great opportunity to pause and reflect on my life and my contribution to the world in which I live. The comfort that I have in this time of reflection is that while my world and the world around me is constantly changing, God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
So, as summer ends and a new school year begins, may you and your family welcome the changes and opportunities that lie ahead, embracing Christ our Savior as the author of all that fills our lives, knowing that a true and ever-living God walks with us always through the seasons of life.