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A fresh notebook and box of crayons, packets of paper sealed in plastic, pristine folders unbruised by young hands carelessly stuffing wrinkled assignments in them, pencils with intact erasers, a fresh bottle of glue–these to me are some of the best memories of the start of school each year.
I always started school with high expectations–that I’d do all my homework ahead of time and never wait until the last minute to prepare for a test or a project and wouldn’t be so shy and stuck socially . . . you know the drill.
The need to make oneself over seems to be a constant theme in human life. That’s why extreme makeover shows of almost any kind draw big viewing audiences: we hold to the myth that we can, like the caterpillar, cocoon ourselves and then emerge so radically different that our previous lives disappear.
They don’t of course. Cleaned, redecorated houses fill with dirty clutter. Perfectly landscaped lawns grow weeds; plants die for lack of care. Weight quickly lost under extreme conditions comes back and muscles grow soft once more. Redone wardrobes and uncomfortable shoes are shoved aside for comfort and sloppy, relaxed attire. Notebooks fill with undone assignments, pencils dull, erasers disappear, and procrastination rises again.
Human nature.Yet that longing for the transformation exists because we are created and called to something higher than mundane and stuck repetitive lives.
We are so more than simply body with its physical drives and demands. The satisfaction of those drives brings only fleeting pleasures and then demand that we satisfy them again and again, raising the stakes higher, higher, higher often to the point of destruction as those pleasures become less easily achieved.
St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself O God, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” The restless heart that pushes human activity ultimately looks for God. We long for that place of wholeness and holiness. We so want to know and be known, to love and be loved, to have meaningful work that satisfies our souls. None of these longings can be fully reached outside a rich spiritual life.
The time is always “NOW” to begin or continue that journey to real spirituality. We begin by stopping. Stopping long enough to hear the longings of our souls. Stopping by refusing to deaden that internal voice that calls for something more, something transcendent, something eternal. Stopping the incessant external voices of discordant media that smash our souls with the push to consume, transgress moral boundaries, and ignore spiritual longings.
Let us find our rest in God and then go back to school with fresh supplies!