Someplace deep within me, I carry every story I have ever heard, every story I have ever lived, every story I will ever need. – Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God
This past weekend, I settled my middle child in for her first year of college. Throughout the summer, as this time has drawn near, I have been aware anew of the power of story in our lives. Story is not only a connection with our past, but is our way of interpreting ourselves. Retelling the stories of our cross-country move to Seattle eleven years ago with new home, school and friends reminds her of resilience. Hearing her own stories of the (rotten) first day of high school, the school she chose but which her closest friends did not, remind her of beginnings that she made for herself. Faith stories, such as the stories of Esther, Abraham and Sarah and more remind her that God will always go ahead of her, and is in all times and all places.
What stories, family stories and faith stories, resonate with you as we enter this time of “back to school?” Many families have traditions for navigating this transition – a special breakfast on the first morning, a gathering time to hear about the first day, special prayers or blessings as everyone heads their own direction. Make time this year to include the telling of stories – those from past years, perhaps even from past generations. Include stories from our faith tradition, such as Abraham and Sarah, or Jesus in the Temple. Allow your children to share in the storytelling as well.
A Prayer for the new school year, by Wendy Claire Barrie, St. Bart’s, NYC:
God of Wisdom, we give you thanks for schools and classrooms and for the teachers and students who fill them each day. We thank you for this new beginning, for new books and new ideas. We thank you for sharpened pencils, pointy crayons, and crisp blank pages waiting to be filled. We thank you for the gift of making mistakes and trying again. Help us to remember that asking the right questions is often as important as giving the right answers. Today we give you thanks for these your children, and we ask you to bless them with curiosity, understanding and respect. May they be guided by your love. All this we ask in the name of Jesus, who as a child in the temple showed his longing to learn about you, and as an adult taught by story and example your great love for us. Amen.