It was on the last Sunday of the school year which ended in June when I wrote, "What will I do for the summer? I will live! I will live life richly and fully and deeply. I will love life with a hallowed adoration and praise the Maker of us all for having made me and given me this life I treasure." I lied, though I had no idea that what I was writing then would be so far from the actuality of how the summer would play out.
I remember where I went that day, with the camera hanging from my belt as it always is. I set it up on the tripod just to get pictures of myself sitting inside a colorful gazebo with a Cheshire cat grin on my face. I look back at this picture and the others I shot of myself that day and remember so easily what I was feeling - the depth, the focus, the keen exhilaration of being less than a week from the last day of school.
Now, all of a sudden it seems, today is the last Sunday before I begin the new school year which starts tomorrow. It seemed only fitting that I should return to that place where I'd celebrated the end of the past academic season, this time to bid farewell to the summer - the summer that kind of wasn't at all. To be certain I did have some great times in the past weeks, but they were punctuated with disturbing happenings, and human nature being what it is, it's easy to forget the good when the bad is sitting on your chest and banging you in the face.
The face that will greet my new kids tomorrow morning will not be this one - the one I was wearing when I got a head start on setting up the classroom a few weeks ago. They'll see my Mr. Rogers face all smiley and rich with saccharine that they'll think is certainly sugar. They'll hear a cheerful and happy tone. They'll have no idea that the grown man standing before them will be on the verge of tears in wanting to take back the past 12 weeks or so and to have a major do-over with them.
After a few weeks the saccharine will be gone and real sugar will be there. The happiness will be genuine. There will still be an ache to have the summer again, but the bomb blast of letting go of this one will be replaced with a longing for the one to come. All too soon Halloween will come and after that things will rush by. Thanksgiving! Christmas! Tell-tale signs of Spring! Once again I'll visit the place with the pretty gazebo and take a picture of myself smiling.
For now, though, there's only this one as the countdown of days has become one of mere hours.
There are many good things to be accomplished this school year. God, grant me the grace to do them joyfully especially when joy itself doesn't seem anywhere within reach.