I'm off to summer school. At least, I hope it will be summer school. I certainly don't want to go back to the days when we had to walk to school, in the blinding snow, uphill both ways.
In any case, I think I'm going to enjoy the classroom curriculum. Time has come for me to learn how to be a child again, and just in time. This grown-up stuff is getting old in a hurry.
It turns out that the sages of old were right, after all. Life really is a circle. We start out as innocents, blank pages waiting to be filled with life experiences. What a wonder those early years are. Of course, I have only the faintest memories of my own growing up years, but it is God's own wisdom and mercy that I was able to observe my children during those years when their curiosity knew no bounds and they woke each day eager to see what this brand new day would bring.
It seems a shame, in retrospect, that their dad and I were compelled to tamp their enthusiasm, to channel their energies into socially acceptable activities, and sometimes to leave their most poignant "Why?" questions unanswered, their little hearts not yet able to bear the truth.
It must be Father's wisdom again, that parents do remember their own teen years and their own teen fears, whether today's teenager believes it or not. As clumsy as our attempts are to guide them through those minefields, our hearts truly do want them to emerge with at least some measure of purity, faith and hope intact.
The tears shed as we see each one wed are equal measures of joy and sorrow. Joy for the joys they will know and sorrow for the suffering that is as inevitable as the sunset.
In each of these ages, our own and those of our children, there are kingdom lessons that must be learned.
As children, we learn obedience. We learn, if our teachers are true, that actions have consequences. We learn that we, and we alone, are accountable for our choices and as we grow, we learn to accept those consequences, be they good or bad.
As parents, we learn responsibility. Sometimes we learn that one overnight.
If we missed earlier lessons on setting aside our own agenda in favor of someone else's, that lesson is repeated, usually in the form of an earache or a highly contagious childhood disease.
If we missed or have forgotten our earlier lessons on sharing, that lesson, too, is repeated when there are four people standing at the kitchen counter with a craving for something sweet and only three cookies remain in the jar.
If we are impatient by nature, you can bet your bottom dollar, we will be blessed with a child who insists on tying his own shoes, thank you very much, only to end up with both shoestrings in a knot.
These lessons and all of those from the parenting curriculum follow the same instructions found on the shampoo bottle in the shower. You know the one. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
It is, again, God's own wisdom, that life circles back. There is one lesson yet to be learned - and for this one, we need grandchildren. And if grandchildren are not available, this lesson is so important, God will send other children into our lives - for a day, a season or a even an impromptu visit at our place of employment. Jesus said in Matthew 18:2 and 3, "Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Having children taught me that when I was a child, I was a teacher. We all were. We taught our parents how to parent. We taught them patience. We taught them endurance. We taught them what forgiveness really means and we showed them that mercy can fall like rain. We infused them with courage, perseverance and humility. We taught them how to live. We taught them how to love.
Now it is time for the children to teach us anew. It's time to learn how to look in wonder at the world that God has made and marvel in its many mysteries. It's time to learn how to lay our heads on our pillows each night, wholly trusting our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to the One who made us. It's time to learn how to obey, as a little child, every command of our Father in heaven. Mostly, I think we need the children to teach us how to run from what's done to what's next, arms open wide to embrace whatever and whomever comes near, because we know the One who leads.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.