Few community events bring us to the place we find ourselves thanks to the starting of another school year. I am at a loss to find something comparable. From my own first grade year I have been living my life August (it used to be September) to May (it used to be June) with summer in between.
At less than half the normal census the summer's 12,000 students kept UGA and Athens busy and my work at the Episcopal Center fully scheduled. Then it would be filled to over-flowing with all those extra events and conferences and retreats and projects that I thought I'd have the time and space to accomplish. Those 10 to 12 weeks always ended in regret. Regret that I never finished all those extra things.
I was in denial -- I think as an adult, I have ALWAYS been in denial -- that summer is already full. I did it again this summer!!! The two Sundays I was missing from the altar were both Sundays of travel to and from extra work: a church-wide conference at Kanuga and a wedding on Cumberland Island. Good thing I like to drive. The six hour trek between Kanuga and Fernandina Beach was the closest thing to not working during that time away.
So now when school starts I can breathe a sigh of relief. The pattern returns, the routine begins again and each day moves again at a familiar and embracive rhythm and pace. Maybe I'll take some vacation time in October!
Perhaps you've already seen my remarks about this idea of rhythms and rests. It seems to me that we are in the midst of a profound moment that affords all of us new chances to return, restart, recalibrate, and re-engage.
In our lives as fellow worshippers the most obvious sign of return is attendance on Sunday morning. I'm glad to report that our summer attendance was the best I've witnessed in the 5 plus years I have served here. Maybe with school starting we'll see increases continue into the fall.
Another returning element will be our Sunday Evensong events and the steadier, quieter gathering in prayer late on Sunday in Night Prayers.
Another sign of return is a new calendar for Adventures. And before I go another step let me encourage you to join me in thanking Kerrie Sampson and Erin Garrett for seeing to a year of Adventures. I'm still "impressed" with Kerrie's portrayal of Mary greeting the newborn Jesus at the Christmas bonfire. The new calendar is part of how we will structure all of our Wednesday evenings. (More on that later.)
Some old and new faces are helping us this year as we also look to provide opportunities for a growing number of children who have "aged-out" of Adventures. Leading our middle and high schoolers to an August 29th rally and retreat at All Saints, Atlanta are Emily Buck and Doug Adkins.
And before you know it we'll be gathering again on the second Sunday in September for our annual Ministry Fair and Picnic. Mark your calendars for September 13th and look for ways to represent the ministries that are important to you so that others may consider joining you.
There's bunches we could have done. There's just-as-bigga bunches that we have done. In this "back-to-school" moment we have more opportunities to "return, restart, recalibrate, and re-engage" then to seize with renewed vigor and gratitude in our hearts the momentum by which God has joined us "in between."