Homemade signs made. Favorite lunches packed (handwritten notes included).

First day of school fanfare prep done, kids snoozing carefree, and mama’s ready to collapse.

But I can’t.

All the build up, the haircuts and the shoe shopping, the buzz to find out teacher assignments, the outfits they picked out themselves (a sad day when they declare that boutique clothes are for babies, and instead waltz out all wannabe tween).

I know what’s coming.

Of course this week will be wonderful – it always starts that way.

Then comes reality.

Too early mornings and I don’t want that for breakfast and I thought I told you to put your sneakers where you’d know where they are in the morning mornings.

Add to it homework head scratchers that can turn even the calmest adult inside out, and we’re longing for fall break by Labor Day.

When the bloom is off the rose, and soon enough it will be, what then?

Salt. And light.

Words I hardly considered, until twice in the past seven days.

A self-professed non Evangelical Methodist, I am fairly private about my faith. Even so, there was something striking about a particular post from my friend J on her daughter’s first day of school.

Instead of the usual declarations of how “It’s gonna be a great year!” and so on, her remark reflected the simple prayer of a mother preparing her own heart for the school year ahead.

“Let them be salt and light.”

I found it a lovely turn of phrase, considered the Biblical references only peripherally, and carried on with my day.

Then yesterday, at a Chick-Fil-A in Clinton, Mississippi, I saw a gaggle of church youth make their way to a table in the back. One of the students was wearing a bright blue t-shirt, printed with the words “Be these things.” Pictured underneath were a salt shaker and a lightbulb.

Why Yes Lord, I do feel that tap on my shoulder.

I am certain this year will bring with it as many character shaping moments as it will innocence shrinking setbacks. If we make it to December 25th with one or both still believing, that will be my very own Miracle on Our Street.

Just as surely as they will encounter not so nice kids, they will have opportunity, likely without me ever knowing, to act the same way.

Throughout the peaks and valleys to come, my hope for them this year is different. Yes I still expect them to do their best, that we will celebrate great report cards with dinner out at their favorite restaurant, and that new friendships will emerge while existing ones are strengthened.

But it doesn’t end there:

  • When there is a test on a subject that’s not their best.
  • If a substitute teacher offers “easy” versus “hard.”
  • Where there is a lack of kindness, be it the lunchroom or the playground or the hallways in between.

Whomever is involved, whenever they can, and however circumstances present themselves, let them be salt and light.