By Rev. John Hulden
Many years ago, year after year on the day after Labor Day, I would proclaim, “Today, I’m the happiest taxpayer ever!” Why? After another raucous and free-wheelin’ summer with four kids, Becky and I were thrilled to send our little munchkins off to public school. Thank you property taxes, income taxes, and any other kind of taxes that provide funding so other caring adults (teachers) could shepherd our kids for a chunk of the day from September to June. Thankful. Grateful.
Yet the first day of school still comes with heartache, … even if you’ve been waiting for some much-needed routine in your kids’ lives. If you pay attention, in the morning on the first day of school, you’ll see that love is in the air — bus stop love. Parents are out on the curb making sure kids get to the right bus, to the right school, at the right time.
You’ll know Bus Stop Love when you see it. It’s the Kindergartner and her Mom and Dad – the new outfit, the hugs, the kisses, the picture taking, the tears (parents mostly).
Bus Stop Love isn’t in the smooching and hugging, however. Bus Stop Love is in the letting go.
If you pay attention, in the morning on the first day of school, you’ll see that love is in the air — bus stop love.
For that little darling going to Kindergarten, this is the biggest transition in her short life since leaving the womb – and parents know it too!
The next biggest transition might be … leaving home for military or volunteer service, a job, or college. Parents at this stage ask, “Can he live on his own?,” “Can she live with a roommate?,” “How will she get up in the morning without me yelling at her three times?,” “Will he make healthy choices — especially after midnight?”
(Please remind your kids who enlist that there are military chaplains where they will be going. And let Lutheran Campus Ministry know about a kid heading off to college. Fill out this easy form, so our Lutheran Campus Pastors can connect with all those little darlings: http://lumin-networkreferral.org/student-referrals/)
YEP, LOVE IS SOMETIMES in the letting go. It just might be the hardest kind of loving.
In Matthew 16, we read about Peter learning this hard lesson. Peter gets a Gold Star in one paragraph (“Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah!), and in the very next paragraph Peter is given detention (“Get behind me, Satan!). Then Jesus teaches his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
Peter gets a Gold Star in one paragraph, and in the very next paragraph
Peter is given detention.
“Letting Go Love” – Bus Stop Love – is that Christ-like love where losing it is required to find it.
Here’s to the first day of school.
Here’s to the brave children and their fearless teachers.
Here’s to the parents who love their kids so much, they let ‘em go.
And may all old folks like me still appreciate our tax dollars supporting education!