It’s August, Lord

Subtitle: Now what?

Sub-subtitle: Looking through the lens of John 6.1-13

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It’s August. The season of summer recreation –
lost, with so very much else,
to the shadowing, lingering virus –
is over.

Now what?

The bells,
signaling the advent of the school year,
should be ringing…

the doors,
welcoming onrushing, ready feet,
bearing open minds and hearts
for joyous reunions with friends
and
to take the next and anxious step up learning’s ladder,
should be swinging open…

with parents able to return to work full-time,
if, when there is full-time work.

But the shadowing, lingering virus,
with rising rates, soaring spikes of infection and death,
casts its stifling pall,
silencing the bells,
shutting the doors,
spoiling the sleep of administrators
and
teachers
and
educational and governmental authorities;
all who,
wracking their brains,
wringing their hands
in endless hours (though not, though never enough) of discernment unclear
(with even less money)
and decisions unresolved, asking:
What do we do?
When do we do it?
Where do we do it?
How do we do it?

In-person instruction
in disinfectant-scented classrooms
of masked students, 6-feet apart
and with schedules of alternating days?

Or on-line, wi-fi, hot-spotted distance-learning?
(And how about our computer-less kids
who dwell in our poorest cyber-less canyons of no connection?)

Or a hybrid model of the best
(or, at least, the least of the worst of each)?

Whatever, whichever:
Does it fly?
Will it drive?
How far will it go?
Is it equipped for a smooth or bumpy trip?
Or a bit of both?

Who knows?

Though, surely, knowing how much might be (and already has been) lost,
who knows what can and will be gained?

It’s August, Lord.

I don’t know, and I judge not, what others are doing,
but I turn to you.

You who –
with compassioned-eyes, gazing on vast crowds longing for bread,
which six months’ wages were not enough to provide –
turned aside,
receiving from a child’s willing hands two fish and loaves, five,
and then feeding all
and with left over baskets of fragments.

How did you do it, Lord?

Was it a mystical multiplication of physical matter;
surpassing the governance of normative laws of nature?

Or a sacramental action, giving each but a morsel?
The real feeding, spiritual, each being blessed by wonder.

Or a natural transaction of spiritual dimension?
Your free giving of your little inspiring all to share their much.

I don’t know, Lord,
but I do know that all were fed
and I do know that you, somehow, did it.

It’s August, Lord.

And I dare beseech, I do beg that you to do it again.

Feed the minds of your children hungering for the bread of learning.
Free all from the peril of illness.
Fashion the best from the worst for the good of us all.

Amen.

© 2020 PRA

Illustration: Feeding the Multitudes, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644)

3 thoughts on “It’s August, Lord

  1. Paul,

    I was hoping to get to the end of this great post with lots of important questions and find that brilliant you would have an answer for this historic situation we find ourselves in.

    You remind God that he did it before by feeding the thousands (and there were leftovers!!!!) and though we don’t know HOW it was done, we know it was …. so my takeaway is your end…

    “Feed the minds of your children hungering for the bread of learning.
    Free all from the peril of illness.
    Fashion the best from the worst for the good of us all.”

    As a grad school teacher if both classroom and online I don’t even have suggestions for how to be successful! I love your phrase “hungering for the bread of learning” and I’m praying that our less fortunate children won’t lose their hunger for learning (especially if it’s caused by hunger for food due to their family’s loss of income.) I too want all kids to be fed learning in a safe way and I hope there will be leftovers of extra help for as many children who may have fallen behind due to this pandemic as need it. No solution will make everyone happy BUT I pray people will give these temporary solutions a fair chance so we can learn what will work going forward and what won’t and that flexibility will be part of the plan so chances can quickly be made as needed!! It’s August… bring it on & hopefully God will show us the right solutions!

    Like

  2. Sometimes, Loretta, the best (the only!) thing I can do is act as a diagnostician. I can look at a thing and examine it, and then say, to the best of my ability to perceive: These are some of the dimensions of the problem. That’s what I’ve done here. And, as you rightly surmise, I have no answers.

    Nevertheless, I also think that sometimes, especially when resolution is difficult to achieve (even to see!), having a solid framework in hand to process as we proceed into the morass of the problem is a necessary thing. And, for me, what you have written is “a solid framework”: “…that our less fortunate children won’t lose their hunger for learning (especially if it’s caused by hunger for food due to their family’s loss of income)…all kids to be fed learning in a safe way and…there will be leftovers of extra help for as many children who may have fallen behind due to this pandemic as need it. No solution will make everyone happy BUT I pray people will give these temporary solutions a fair chance so we can learn what will work going forward and what won’t and that flexibility will be part of the plan so chances can quickly be made as needed!”

    Amen! And I love your metaphorical connection: “…there will be leftovers of extra help for as many children who may have fallen behind due to this pandemic as need it.” I didn’t have this in mind. Now, that you say/write it, I say, amen! For, doubtless, in my mind, some of our kids, during this summer of loss, are behind in their studies – and, perhaps, have lost ground on what they had learned/mastered during the 2019-2020 school year. Now, with educational strategies for resuming instruction uncertain in so many places, the likelihood is more loss, particularly for our kids who are socially and economically disadvantaged. So, amen for the “leftovers of extra help.” (And, now, in this instant, continuing to follow the metaphor, the track upon which you’ve guided me, I think of the leftovers from the feeding of the 5000, and, therefore, using your line, I say, “leftovers of extra help[ings]” of education’s bread for those who, left behind, are hungry!)

    Love

    Liked by 1 person

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