September. Again.

Had our first day of school today in our newly created Home School dedicated to the Royal New-Martyred Family of Russia. It was glorious to be teaching in a classroom again, especially to my own dear children. It has been quite a long time since I have had such a pleasure, as I am by trade and calling a teacher and only secondarily a tour guide. I took a break from that calling several years ago so that I could have the energy to start a new family and to finish a seminary education. But now I am fully ready to get back into the fray, and this is so far a wonderful reintroduction for me, like the one described by another home schooler today.

The title of my post comes from a dearly loved college magazine I used to subscribe to as a young man called Campus Life. It was the caption of a memorable September issue which featured on the cover one of the most poignant scenes I have ever beheld. A single little boy in a yellow rain jacket, holding a tiny lunch pail boards a yellow school bus in a gentle, early morning autumn rain.

child lunchIn a single image was captured everything I have come to love about this time of year. The anticipation of a new school year. A mind and heart pregnant with the possibility of new discoveries. The freshness and invigoration of a bracing fall wind. That was what summed up for me the meaning of “September”. But the word “again” is even more suggestive. It is that wonderful, liturgical expression of life which we use when pleading for the Lord’s mercy, “Again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord… Lord have mercy.” It is a reminder that nature moves in cycles, not automatically or irresistibly as enlightenment thinkers contended, but in a repetition born from the continuous delight of the Creator:

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance….childThe thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

–G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy

And just like the sun, we do not take this miracle of learning for granted, but say every year to our teachers, “Do it again” and by God’s good grace, they condescend in September to reenact that very ancient relationship of discipleship which the Lord himself patterned when he came in our flesh to teach us.

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