Three of my children start school tomorrow here in New Jersey. So much has changed since I was a kid. I am not a person who hates on how things are, but as a mom, I can wish for the feeling of innocence we all had when I was in in the second grade. My oldest starts her Senior year of high school (cue the sentimental music), my oldest son starts eighth grade, and my middle son starts second grade. Thank God, my youngest son who starts preschool this month (fingers crossed-the school had issues which are delaying the opening), and my baby girl are home with me. Next year, I’ll be a mess! Too many changes for me, but I’ll have to deal. Back to the 1980’s…
From the second grade to fifth grade, I went to a Catholic school called St. Christopher’s in the Somerton section of Philadelphia. Nothing was scary about school. The news gave us some bad news and every once an a while an urban myth or possible creepo in a car with like 100 stuffed animals were whispered about. I had terrible anxiety falling asleep as a kid and I worried incessantly. In this day and age, I’d have been sent to a therapist with all the borrage of news 24/7, terrorism, school shootings, and internet insanity of the worst of the world. Watching scary movies back then did not help me any. I avoid them like the plague now.
You hear stories of mean nuns, which were before my time. The two nuns I had during that time as teachers were super sweet and the convent was a lovely serene place to visit. I forgot I was scared at school twice, once when we had a haunted house in the school gym (never again), and when I thought I was in trouble with the principal, Sister Elaine, but I totally was not. I was reprimanded in third grade for talking, but my teacher didn’t understand I had important stuff to say. I cleaned up that business with Sister Phyllis in the fourth grade and won a poster contest for “Good Manners” and I felt like a rockstar. Second grade, I felt like a little princess of God for my Communion in my beautiful white dress. Memories blur, but I remember in fifth grade having three teachers and learning a lot. I can picture myself clapping erasers outside with all of our doors leading outside were open. They let the breeze in. Fresh air was so welcome then and safety concerns were in case of fire. Now, can you imagine doors wide open. Nostalgia makes me take a deep breath of that one. Our computers were just old TV’s and all we could do was add and subtract numbers. Our VCR was the greatest invention. CD’s, our phone lines with call waiting, and cable TV were not even in my world yet. Ahh..I sound old and that I yearn for the past. I don’t. I know there were bad things going on behind the scenes then and afterschool special kept bringing awareness and new knowledge of danger in my world I didn’t know existed.
Fast forward to now and there are a trillion more things to worry about. School shootings since Columbine have changed our country and our schools. This is not as simple as saying God is not in our schools. I am a deeply spiritual person, but don’t want to force my views on others. I know it’s also not as simple as the theory of broke homes, absent parents, or video games, cause they don’t breed hate in violence in all kids. I don’t have all the answers.
What I do think improves everyone’s lives is a connection to themselves, their souls, and a Higher Power. Nature can be your church and your prayer may be yoga, mediation, or thank you. God doesn’t care how you pray. If you are connecting to the Divine, your life is different. It’s not going to solve every problem, but you will think different. Your perceptive will be that of love, a higher consciousness, your inner light is your own lighthouse. I may sound all New Agey, woo woo, and I own that. It works for me. I pray my own way. I pray for my kids. I pray for your kids. I pray for all the kids. I pray for the good kids who get hurt. I pray for the bad kids that hurt. I pray for the families. I pray for the schools. I ask angels to surround the schools and that the kids can learn and grow as people. I pray for the teachers that they may be their best selves and give hope, knowledge, and encouragement to those who need it. I pray for the administrators who create the educational structure for the children to thrive. I believe the teachers are truly the foundation and deeply value their contribution. As a parent, I thank you for teaching my children and taking care of them, along with all the staff, when they are in school. I pray this upcoming school year is a peaceful one for all. I pray. I pray. I pray. I send love out to this whole planet that we know more peace than we ever have. I choose peace. Thank you. Amen.