She returned home from her freshman year exactly one year after she went to her Sr. prom.
I remember vividly these days a year ago. Prom marked the beginning of “the end” of high school. It was the start of celebrations, recognitions, and good-byes. From the beginning of May until the end of June we all were part of the journey toward the end. Now, on a Friday evening, she returns home to a quiet house with just mom and dad.
It wasn’t long before the car was unloaded. And soon the three of us had built a fire outside, found the S’mores, and began to tell stories. People she didn’t know a year ago were now friends, and even mom and dad recognized their names. Classes, overwhelming in September, didn’t seem so bad today. The dorm room we tried to make home in August, is now empty and waiting for it’s next resident. So much happened in the past year, and tonight we are witnessing the change first hand.
This is the season where so many students and families are in “the end” times. Busy days. Meaningful days. Thankful days. Scary days. It’s the time to reflect, to be present, and to appreciate the ordinary and extraordinary moments. For those that are in that season, I pray that your journey may be meaningful. Hug your “baby” and participate fully in the journey. Before you know it, it will be over.
This is also the season of “reentry.” While “the end” is a communal journey marked with rites and rituals, this season is quiet and doesn’t have any traditions. And its an unpredictable transition. For some, the reentry will be a welcomed homecoming; for others, the reentry will be a roller coaster of good days and hard times. You see in 12 short months these students have been forced to navigate life on their own. Sure, we stayed connected, but remember our prayer back in September? Now here they are on the other side – changed. Some changes we like and others not so much…but they did it. They grew-up.
And come to think of it, we changed too. Be it the first or the last child, our life had to navigate some twists and turns, ups and downs, loud and quiet moments. And we are here to tell about it as well. Maybe we, those that stayed behind, have our own idea of how this “reentry” should go. And maybe it won’t go as planned. Remember, we’ve changed, they’ve changed, and now we are back together. Be patient with the “reentry” and with each other. This is good work, even as its hard at times. Take it one step at a time. Listen often, exercise patience, and remember…this work is the business of navigating life as one moves from adolescence to adulthood.
In the next few weeks, I pray for the students and families celebrating “the end” as I also hold in my heart the students and families experiencing “reentry.”