Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! We at OC Online are so excited to begin this time with you! We can’t wait to serve the schools and families we love! YOU are the thing that gets us out of bed in the morning and brings meaning to the work we do; we are so grateful for all of you.
Of course, this year getting back to school involves some very different preparations doesn’t it? Lots of tasks and lists go into getting ready for any new school year, but this one is unprecedented.
Here’s one thing we’d like to invite all of you to try this year as we begin:
Moms, dads, faculty, students, and staff, as you enter this first week of school:
Take a moment to attach meaning to one of this new school year preparations.
Maybe you’re an administrator at one of the schools we love to serve, and you must make an agenda for your first staff meeting of the new year. That’s a preparation. Or maybe you’re a student at that same school and you are trying out new technology to attend class. That’s a preparation. Or perhaps you are a returning fully online student, and you are organizing your computer files and breaking out your calendar because this year you are determined to be more organized. That’s preparation too.
Whatever it is, this year pick one of those preparations and decide that it matters. Let it not just something you’re doing because that’s what’s next on your to-do list. Slow down. Take in what you’re doing. With this action, you’re accepting that you are about to embark on a new journey.
Even if you go on to have dozens of more “first days of school”, you’ll never have this one again. You might make tons of agendas and buy lots of textbooks and organize your files a million times. But this time is this time. Maybe that sounds a little overly sentimental, but it’s true.
When we take a moment to slow down in this way, we can start to transform ordinary preparation into a meaningful ritual. And when there is so much difficult change around us and so many things we have no control over, carving out and creating meaningful rituals can provide a shelter in the storm. Rituals are things that help us keep track of what’s important and help us remember that life has meaning—we aren’t just being swept along. Think about the meal you make every Christmas, or the candles you light on birthdays, or the cards you write when someone is grieving. We do these things to commemorate what is important, to slow down, and let the meaning sink in.
One of the most special things about God is the way that God infuses ordinary things with meaning, purpose, and joy. God takes dirt and breathes human life into it. God takes bread and wine and an empty tomb and liberates the world. God takes the ordinary and reveals how because of his presence, it is extraordinary.
Let’s invite God into the task and see what happens. See if it transforms from work into worship. Try taking a moment to settle into gratitude about this task. What is there to be thankful about this mundane thing you’re doing? Name it, tell God about it. Remember times you have done this in the past. How have you grown since those previous times? Tell God how that makes you feel. Are you proud of how far he has brought you? Are you nervous about how this time might be different? Share that with God. Maybe try writing it down. And finally, look at the task ahead: who are the people involved in doing this thing? How can you thank them for sharing in this new school year with you?
Welcome back. You’ve got a lot to do and we know you’re as excited as we are to get going. But as you do, remember to capture the beauty and wonder of this moment when you began this school year. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)