Slow Burn

school supplies pencil paper“It’s the most wonderful tiiime… of the year.”

Fresh crayon-y wax, the sweet-dry scent of pink erasers, page after glorious page of blank lines and potential, freshly exposed wood and graphite…

“It’s the hap-happiest seeeeason of all.”

New shoes, a first backpack, meet the teacher, nervous excitement…

In my world, this song carries me straight through to February and the advent of the school year.  After a long and busy summer break encompassing the “other most wonderful time of the year” as well as much TV watching, outdoor play, disgusting floors, mountains of laundry comparable to the foothills of the Rockies, and a kitchen who’s purpose (it seems) is to store dirty dishes… I am about to get some small portion of my sanity back.

And so… for everyone involved, we seem poised on the precipice of so much potential.  A universe of static energy just waiting to be released.  There truly is magic in the air today as we turn the corner from celebrating vacation (concluded by Grandma’s departure and the Super Bowl) to the dutiful return to routine, normalcy and the blessed and joyful quotidian.  The advent of a school year is the one time in life (apart from the less frequent first day at a new job later on) when we are poised for something new, and excited about the possibilities that might come packaged in the day-in-and-day-out slow burn of routine.

It starts with a bang, always full of first day anticipation and the semi-unknown… new teacher, new dynamics, new books, unexplored possibilities, new information.  The flames flicker and flash for those first days and even into that first weekend… and then, on Monday, we look down and we are one big bed of coals, perfectly smoldering, ready to refine or cook or heat the world with a constant, reliable, effective burn that reforms and changes slowly, day by day.  The start of a new chapter of life is the advent of reform.  The kind of reform is always up to you.

The two most influential pep-talks I used to receive from my mom (and they were oft repeated) were always to do with two things: Duty and Attitude.  When they finally clicked, I am not sure… but I do know that I rely upon them to this day to carry me through (though failure is frequent).

Duty runs a long way over much terrain, but for me it was a concept I needed reminding of when it came time to buckle down and follow through when I wanted nothing more than to quit.  When everything in me said, “Ugh!  Forget this!” and I called her in tears because I could not see a successful path through the wilderness, she would simply tell me, “Well, whatever the result, you will do the best you are capable of and finish b/c that is your duty.  You just do it.  And then you’ll be done.”

…And, honestly, that carries one into Attitude.  It is the one thing, in boring, or difficult or exasperating circumstances, of which we are in control (which is something we crave when life feels unstable,  difficult or monotonous)… and it unexpectedly wields a hefty amount of weight.

These are the super powers for the slow burn, the heroic actions of every-day.  They bring the kind of reform and growth that can save the world one blank page or sink of dirty dishes at a time.  Thanks, Mom.

May my little heroes find the needed mercies new each day to use their superpowers to love well and honor God in the slow burn of this year and when they do not, may I be there and hear them so that I can remind them of the One who makes their super powers a reality.