HEADING BACK TO SCHOOL (AGAIN)

If “back to school” is starting to feel like a regular occurrence, that’s no surprise. Canadian families and educators have had countless stops and starts to the school year since March 2020, and plans for the weeks and months ahead are still on the uncertain side as COVID-19 continues to upend our lives.

Pandemics and other world crises come and go, but for most of us, September means that summer’s over and a new year is beginning. I always get a bit of a thrill seeing the ads for school supplies and other gear at this time of year, even though it’s been a while since I’ve been in school myself. 

That sense of expectation, excitement and anything is possible that beckons at this time of year is something we all feel at various moments in our lives, far beyond school: starting a new job, falling in love, embracing a vocation, welcoming a child into the family, putting down roots in an unfamiliar place… Maybe the new school year is a training ground for making our way in the world as we grow up.

With that thought in mind, here are two prayers – one for kids and one for teachers – who are preparing to head back to class after the roller coaster of the past year and a half. May the 2021/22 school year be a safe and healthy one, and may God bless all the students, parents, teachers and school staff who are embarking on this new adventure together!

A back-to-school prayer for kids

Loving God,

you are kindness and caring,

you are wondrous and wise,

you are our friend and guide,

you are our deepest truth.

You bring us together to learn,

to play,

to worship together.

Be with us and guide us

now and throughout the school year.

Amen.

From Words for the Journey for Kids, by Lisa Freemantle and Les Miller (Novalis)

A back-to-school prayer for teachers

Loving God,

you call us to be disciples:

to be instruments of your healing,

reaching out to your beloved children;

to be instruments of your hope,

helping to make learning more effective;

to be instruments of your harmony,

bringing understanding where there is confusion.

Gracious God, flow through us

in the year ahead

and help us bring peace

to our beautiful yet broken world.

Amen.

From Words for the Journey, by Lisa Freemantle and Les Miller (Novalis)

Anne Louise Mahoney is Managing Editor of Novalis. She is the editor of Looking to the Laity: Reflections on Where the Church Can Go from Here and the author of I Hope, a book for young children.

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