One of my favorite parts of the day is when I’m leaving my neighborhood in the morning. I see Moms (and sometimes Dads) walking their children to our local elementary school. The children have their small, colorful backpacks on, the parents are often carrying a cup of coffee, and not infrequently do I see the child with a skip or jump, belying the enthusiasm of youth.
Our society places great emphasis on the rites of passage associated with young people: graduations, college matriculation, weddings, and so on. Indeed, weddings can sometimes cost more than a college education.
I would like however, for us to pause and honor this special, important ritual of the morning walk to school. There is so much there: the child is learning at a phenomenal rate, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. The parent is allowed to hold the child’s hand in a way that will not be the case in just a few short years. The walk to school enables a transition from the morning activities that are so much a part of home life, like snuggles, breakfast, and encouragement, and the structured world of school. There’s also a transition from loving parents to (hopefully) loving teachers.
Then there is the parents’ perspective. This walk is the period between being depended upon by a small human being to being depended upon by grown human beings. For many, this transition must represent quite the disconnect. And it summons forth the best effort a parent can bring.
I suspect that we sometimes fail to honor this moment of the daily walk to school because to recognize it for what it is might bring forth more emotion than we can reasonably handle. It is hard to carry on with your heart stuck in your throat.
In the Christian church, there is the notion of a sacrament. A sacrament is “a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a means by which God enacts his grace…Sacraments signify God’s grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.”
For me, driving to work each day, I see grace in way the small hand is held by the parent, in the special conversations, and in the courage it takes to go from the security of a family to the wonder of the world. I see grace enacted in an outwardly observable way.
C.S Lewis once wrote, “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the world in letters too large for some to see.” Perhaps, in the same way, the morning transition from home to school, is the retelling of love in small letters every day.