A new school year has begun. Rather than pulling my family and community together, I have felt more disoriented than in previous years. Transitions are always like that. They are the same in that they are about things being different. We compare them to the last time this happened or to our own memories. We are left to seek comfort in what is familiar and hope amid change.
Off to different starts
Judging from social media, our wide array of friends and family did not start school at the same time. Some began in early August, many before Labor Day. Friends just a few miles away in a different county started almost two weeks later than us. I even had a nephew still on summer travel while my own daughter was learning her new locker combination and bus route. Summertime brought us together. It ended in different ways at different times. It’s easier to cling to the memories of all that time together than the big year ahead where we are apart.
My daughter is in Grade 7 this year. She is in the very middle of middle school. That means that many of the parents I know in the community that surround her are dealing with transitions into or out of elementary school and middle school. Some are also seeing their first (or next) child going off to college. Those are big changes that our community faces every year. But for some reason, this year those changes are even more pronounced.
In my own immediate family, that couldn’t be more true. Peggy, the younger of my two sisters who lives in Utah, is preparing for the wedding of her eldest daughter in October. Jessica just finished her first year of college, so that’s one kind of transition upon another. My sister’s eldest son just graduated high school. Alex left at the end of August for a two-year mission in the Philippines. That’s another big transition for my sister to bear.
Transition in the Church
For me and my work, my parish transitioned from one led by Franciscan friars for the past 46 years to being staffed by diocesan priests. This will be my fourth pastor (my second bishop and second pope). It is an opportunity to experience new vision and leadership. But during a busy time like this (with the start of the religious-education year and upcoming Confirmation retreats and celebrations) change is not always an easy thing.
Perhaps what was most unsettling to this time of year was the dark shadow cast by the latest Church scandal. For us people in the pews, and professionals like myself working in parish ministry, it took a lot of wind out of our sails just as we were gearing up. The momentum of enthusiasm meets the dead weight of human sinfulness. Our own Sunday Eucharistic celebrations carry the same freight. And ultimate hope.
When we look at our school children (at whatever age), we place our hopes within them. At the same time, we wonder and share some level of dismay about the future. Little by little some of those anxieties and wrinkles iron themselves out. What remains becomes our daily prayers of joys and concerns. We may not always feel or have the support we need from the church we have, but we do trust in a God who does not fail us, but brings everything to its completion.
Our children are sent out like prayers into the world
Let us remember prayers are not answers to problems
They are God’s blessings to the world.
Copyright 2018 Jay Cuasay