Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First things first

“The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Madame Marie du Deffand

By now, the first day of school seems almost a distant memory, and our trip to Africa, about which so many of you have kindly asked, practically a dream. I promise to visit the colorful streets and beautiful people of Togo with you in another post, but today I wish to share some observations on the special start to another school year.

Even to our older boys, who have had many a first day of school, September 7 was one full of anticipation and trepidation. Our daughter, too, put on her smart new pink plaid dress with fingers trembling a bit with excitement and nervousness. A week later, when number four started his first day of preschool, his hold on my hand was tighter than usual and his goodbye hug just a little bit longer. I wonder, did they have any idea of the butterflies dancing in my own stomach as I sent them all on their way? Do they realize, as someone has said, that they all represent my heart, skipping away from me clad in brand new tennis shoes and mary janes? Do they know that I held my breath and willed away my own tears as their lovely new teachers took them by the hand, at least figuratively, and led them through the door to new discoveries and endless possibilities?

There is no accomplishment without first an endeavor. There is no value without first a cost. There can be no harvest without first planting. So, I gave my children the necessary nudges, and the required hugs (right in front of people, yes, and even the oldest) and I invited them to partake of the rich blessing of a new year of school. I prayed so much that first day. I still pray daily for a hedge of protection around them - around their bodies and their minds and their hearts. Oh, Lord, please fill them only with those things that You deem important! Father, grow them, stretch them, shape them this year. Teach them to place You first and to manage the rest in a way that pleases You.