Back-to-school season has lessons in finding God for all of us, not just those with children heading back after summer vacation. Here are six lessons I’m reflecting on this year.
1. Have your supplies ready. With school, it’s backpacks, notebooks (spiral or computer kind), pencils, and crayons. For finding God, it might be a notebook for reflective journaling, a helpful website for theological information, or a favorite prayer book. We can meet God with nothing, but sometimes it helps to have a few guides on the journey.
2. Do your homework. We can get by in faith life with going to church once a week, but that’s the minimum in a relationship with God. For maximum understanding, we need to do some work between “classes”—daily prayer being the most important. A relationship with God also grows from time spent in learning more about our faith, whether in a formal parish setting, informal conversations with other people of faith, or private time in reading and conversation with God.
3. Meet new people. The new school year was always a great chance to make new friends. As adults, we should take the time this autumn to consider our community of faith. Do you know the people who sit around you in church? What can you do to make new friends in faith?
4. Dedicate time in your day. The school day is marked by a schedule. God doesn’t require a strict schedule from us, but we have to make the time for God in the midst of our overcrowded days if we want to recognize God more easily in the everyday.
5. Take a break for recess. Educators know that children need breaks in the day for their minds to work most fully when it is time to focus. Retreats are one adult version of recess, allowing us to step back from the everyday tasks and reflect on what’s most important. Even if you don’t have time or resources to go away on a retreat, there are ways to step away from the ordinary to get a fresh perspective.
6. Pay attention. To recognize God’s presence, we have to pay attention to the ways—both big and small—that God is working in our lives and calling us to be our best selves and people for others.
What lessons does back-to-school season offer you?