I’ve shared with some of you in the past that my students start each year with their own statements of belief, in the form of a “This I Believe” essay, modeled on the National Public Radio segment of the same title. With the start of school three days away, here’s a look into my teacher preparation from the last few weeks, my own essay for 2012.
I believe in seasons.
Two weeks ago, it was 34˚ C in Kandern, just-opened-the-oven heat that took my breath (and will to live) away. Today, it’s 18˚ C, raining sometimes, and the dark grey skies make the green forests greener. Fall is only three weeks away, and I can smell it in the air. I’m ready. Ready for sweaters and tea, for rain and, yes, for school to start again. Summer has been sweet in its timeless chaos, full of movement and bright moments with family and friends, but I’m glad it’s over. I’m not made to live always in 34˚ C.
“For everything there is a season,” wrote the anonymous preacher of Ecclesiastes, and “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” I believe in seasons, because I believe God made us to grow in spirals. We see it in the world around us, how the death of autumn, the rest of winter, are necessary for the lush times of spring and summer. Leaves aren’t meant to last forever, and branches only grow through the barren times. I think of the “leafless” moments of my own life, times when I felt alone or disappointed, when the bright hopes and blessings of richer times had fallen away. They’re not the postcard snapshots to remember, but I grew because of them, drawing closer to Christ to fill in the cracks and empty spaces in my heart. I love summer, but I need winter just as much.
This seasonal life is one of many things I love about being a teacher. Each year, I return to a familiar life and see it with fresh eyes. As long as I spend it in a classroom, autumn will always bring new students, pondering new ideas as the hills outside turn many shades of gold. But I will be different, each year, coming to back to these rituals with another three seasons of growth, my own new branches. Each fall, I look back with gratitude on the seasons past, both rich and sparse, and the God that has brought me safely back, to start again and learn anew.