Today is one of those "blah" days when I have to be at work in order to put my hours in, but I don't have enough to keep me busy. The days get long; I end up creating work just to keep busy. In truth, I have more to do at home and I am well aware that my time would be better spent if I were there.
School begins next week and there will be more here to keep me busy--meetings to attend, events to plan and organize. The hallways will be filled with life once again: young voices chattering noisily. It will take a while for the day to become routine. In the meantime, the excitement is contagious and anticipation is palpable.
But those are not the feelings today. Oh, yes, we are ready: the school is scrubbed clean from top to bottom; bulletin boards have once again transformed into colorful galleries and new books and supplies lie in wait on the desks for their owners' arrival. All the "things" that mean school have been prepared. But there is little excitement here, only an eerie silence that pervades the classrooms and hallways. My secretary and I are the only ones in the building and we today we long for dismissal as much as any student who has passed through these halls.
As I walk through the halls and reflect upon all of this I realize anew that terms like "school," "church" and "community" have less to do with buildings or locations as they do with people. The school is the variety of people that come and go through the doors of the building. "School" is who we are and what we do. "School" is an action, a verb. The word is both full of life and life-giving.
As much as I enjoy summer, I suppose that I am ready for this organized chaos to begin once more. I may feel differently if my own children were still at home. Much as mother's long for the end of summer when kids get bored and whiny, it also brings a certain sadness to see one's children head off on their own. The start of each school year marks another year toward their eventual graduation into adulthood and independence.
The start of school is a bittersweet time as it marks the inevitable turning of the seasons. With this comes the reminder: time is fleeting and life is fragile. "There is a time for everything under the sun. Turn, turn, turn..." so Ecclesiastes tells us. I find myself humming that old Byrds' melody in the hallways. And so another school year is set to begin, with all of its joys, sorrows, successes and failures yet to be realized. Life goes on. Now is the time.