The season of “back to” is upon us. Back to school, back to fuller or more “typical” schedules, back to shorter days, back to the work of harvesting after the summer growing season. Depending on our life stage, the shift may feel more or less stark, and yet this time of year still evokes a feeling of transition.
The last few years have also brought us new understandings of what it means to go “back to” the way things were. While for many of us, things may feel more “normal” now than they have for a while, our lives still bear the signs and scars of what we’ve lived (and are still living) through. We don’t talk so much anymore about going “back,” but rather about a new normal, or going forward.
I wonder if that’s not a helpful reframing for our annual “back to” season as well. While there is much of the routine that is familiar year to year, each time around the sun, the world is a little different. The students among us have new educators and vice versa. The harvest yield and quality varies. The situations in our lives are rarely static from one year to the next. And so, we don’t go back, but we go forward, buttressed by some familiar routines while we anticipate (or brace ourselves for) the unknown.
In our community, the familiar routine includes preparation for our beloved Harvest Market. Many are excitedly anticipating the weekend that brings our towns to life and together. As a church, one gift of the event is having the preparation time to reconnect with one another, be it after a summer of travel or a few years of separation. And as we do, let’s take the time to ask in all sincerity, “what’s new?” As both speakers and listeners, we may be surprised to learn how we’ve grown.
On Sunday, worship will include a special blessing for all of those going forward into a new academic year: students, teachers, coaches, learners and educators of all ages. You may bring a backpack or like item for a time of blessing, or just bring yourself! We look forward to celebrating the season’s new beginnings.