I’m planting seeds.
I know it isn’t technically the right time of year for it, but I can’t help it. There is just something that comes over me in late August, something eternally excitable and optimistic about blooms and fruit and growth.
I am one of those people who has been perpetually stuck in an academic calendar. After completing all of my own years of schooling, I moved on to working with students: first in the junior high youth realm, and then college students during my campus ministry season, and then master’s level international students in seminary. Even now, I’ve just sent my own two children off to the start of yet another new school year.
I admit that beginnings can be awfully rough. The first day of school has a long lead time, especially when they start filling the seasonal back-to-school aisles with paper, pencils and backpacks the day after Fourth of July. This is a lot of time to cultivate nerves and anxiety and restlessness about getting back to school. Buying those school supplies, or new clothes that actually fit after a summer of sprouting up, or buying the necessary items to fill a dorm room or one’s first apartment is like buying a certain kind of preparatory fuel made of part frenzy and part thrill. We spend a generous amount of time, energy, and money preparing for this new season each year, and it can leave us feeling somewhat frazzled as we approach the unknown.
The start of the school year also prompts some feelings of separation. With each new school year, parents and children must again learn how to say goodbye to one another well, though I’m well aware of the fact that parents tend to look forward to summer’s end with a mixed bag of relief and grief.
I am personally well-acquainted with the falling-off-a-cliff sensation of leaving one’s child at the elementary playground on the first day. This year I also experienced a whole day of clock-watching as I thought of my daughter making her way through an entire first day of switching classes at the middle school. Last night, with morbid fascination, I listened to a father openly share about crying so hard after dropping his eldest off at college that the rental car gas attendants seemed genuinely concerned for him. I guess the start of the school year, and new beginnings in general, do not necessarily get easier with time and experience.
Beginnings are rough, but they are also fertile ground. All around us in Michigan we are experiencing the best fruits of harvest time, but so many other seeds are slipping into a special, rich soil at the same time. I am dreaming of the school year ahead, and its full range of potential. I am thinking of the many delightful, beautiful things that might grow this year. I’m filled with a sense of wonder, possibility, and hope. I am planting those seeds.
The calendar is full, and the days brim over, but this time of year I feel heartened by each day that dawns with its new, bright busyness. There is much to learn this year. There will be new skills and new information, new stories and inspirations.
New years beckon with much to try-out and try-on. It is all new for everyone, and thus easier to rise to the challenges because you’ll bumble through them with others. The clock ticks on, but it is an enticing momentum that begs you to try again, try better, even come out on top. New schools years froth with excited possibility and things getting set in motion.
Yes, I’m planting seeds right now. Along with the scattered seeds of new activities, teachers, and friends, I am sowing seeds of bright hope and patient perseverance. I can’t wait to see the garden grow.
This time each year, I think with eager expectation about what will grow throughout the year. I trust that beautiful and surprising things things will grow, as happens in all good, growing places. I will nurture my garden so it will be green with growth. There will be buds and blossoms, colors and fruits. Surely, there will be some seeds that don’t grow or are poorly rooted, while some plants may struggle, become withered, or maybe even overgrown.
Still, there will be growth. A school year brings a constant tumult of growth, change, and productivity. This time of year I think of planting seeds, and I’m hoping for a beautiful, fruitful, abundant garden. Won’t you join me? Let’s grow something good.