The Gifts in our Lives

This week ushers in the beginning of school. Although the calendar says we have another month of summer, nothing marks the end of the season like going back to school. 

As a child, this time of year was a mix of excitement over starting a new school year, and sadness that the long, lazy days of summer break were at an end. I loved seeing my friends again and meeting new teachers at school. And who doesn’t love the enormous potential that awaits in brand new school supplies? And yet I was keenly aware of the passing of time and my helplessness to slow it. I loved the freedom of summer and sunny days spent exploring my neighborhood and the deep recesses of my heart. What mixed emotions accompanied me on the first day of school. 

My five grandchildren all return to school this week. I’ve spent time recently with Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, and this evening with Dayan and Jonathan, and they all share those same feelings about the end of summer and the beginning of school. The grandkids range from being a senior in highschool to a second grader, and they feel that swirling mix of excitement and sadness, the allure of fresh possibilities and the loss of freedom that comes with long hours in classrooms. 

I just finished reading the best book, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Glennon writes the blog, Momastry, with candor, humor and total transparency, and the book consists of essays from her blog. One of the essays, Brave is a Decision, really caught my heart this week. Written to her son, Chase, as he was entering third grade, Glennon shares with him  this wisdom:

“I think God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you. So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.” 

She goes on to tell her son that if he sees a child being left out or hurt or teased, his heart will hurt a little…he’s feeling compassion…and to act on that. He can step into the situation or he can talk to his teacher or his parents. She emphasizes that together they can come up with a plan to help. Together they are a team, for him and for his whole class. 

What amazing and heart felt words to share with a child returning to school! What stirring words to embrace as adults! 

I want my grandchildren to hear and/or read these words and see their teachers and classmates as gifts from God…each one as a gift…and know that they too are gifts in the lives of others. 

And I want to remember that the same is true for me. Every person who crosses my path is a gift in my life. Every one. When compassion stirs my heart, it’s also time for me to act, by getting involved, by speaking up, by giving, by finding someone who can help. 

Glennon concludes the letter to Chase with these words:

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.” 

Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…enjoy the gifts that you receive in your classrooms this year. Appreciate each one. Be kind. Be brave. Reach out to those who feel alone. And know that you are my greatest gifts. I love you and cherish you. 

Read Glennon’s full blog post here.