In many parts of Canada, back-to-school doesn’t happen until after Labor Day. So the weekend takes on added significance…
My friend Jimmy watched from across the road as my parents off-loaded a very pale version of my younger self from the backseat. He approached the car to ask about our weekend away at a Christian conference center, but I was quickly escorted into the house, into my room and onto the bed.
People did get sick from the water sometimes — it was before the days of today’s water control standards — but my ailment was brought on entirely by the stress and anxiety of facing another school year. It arrived for several years like clockwork on the first Monday of September.
I have no idea why, and no idea how it disappeared. I know in high school there was always a nervousness about new teachers, new textbooks and new subjects; but by then I looked forward to school. Furthermore, the actual physical illness dissipated by Junior High, though there was always a little bit of trepidation.
With two kids in university, we’re still not divorced from the school start-up date as being the true New Year’s Day; and I still find myself sensing echoes of the butterflies and apprehension involved in kicking into another fall season. In most of our churches, the ministry year kicks off in earnest in the fall; and the business I own is tied to the retail cycle, where September marks the ramp-up toward Christmas.
In some ways, I suppose it’s spiritually good and healthy to recognize when things are a little out of your control. Each portion of the life cycle brings with it enough uncertainty to know that it is God, not us who is fully in control.
Jimmy went on to become a Catholic priest. I tried to track him down, and got as far as church he had recently left, but then the trail went cold. I’m not a detective; I don’t have the resources to pursue it any further. I thought he’d like to know that we shared a common destiny of being involved in different aspects of vocational ministry.
Mysteriously, I was always well enough to attend school the next day. I never missed the first day of classes. Maybe I was becoming ill 24-hours too soon.
I know that my mostly U.S. readership lives in places where the kids have been back to class for as much as three weeks now; so be it belated, or just about right, I wish you a happy new year.