We began our school year at Trinitas last Thursday with an orientation day. It was delightful to see all of the new and returning students hurrying in with their new binders and books and backpacks, all excited for the year ahead. Seeing how much all of the returning students have grown over the summer break is always bittersweet—exciting because they are slowly but surely becoming grown-up human beings, and sad because we so love to the cling to the cutest, sweetest, youngest version of them. Parents do so love to reminisce about the history of their children. Trinitas teachers love to reminisce about the history of those children too. At a school like Trinitas, we get to watch them grow from four-year-olds to eighteen-year-olds. That’s a lot of history.
The common notion about teachers at the end of the school year is that they run out of the building screaming like banshees and then retreat to the comfort and ease of lounging beside the pool all summer to recover. I cannot tell you how many parents asked me the last week of school what I plan to do with myself all summer. One parent who knows I live out in the country asked if I ever even go to town during the summer. Another parent who stopped by the school last week was truly dumbfounded to find the parking lot full, the office well staffed, and all the teachers hard at work. “Don’t y’all know it’s summer?” he stammered. Yes, we do.
Sometime around the end of the nineteenth century, American colleges and universities began to use a form of grading students that resembles what most high schools, colleges, and universities still use today: A, B, C, D, and F. The grades are intended to be a way of measuring and reporting a student’s performance on a given assignment or within a given subject over a period of time. They are useful for that task, but far from perfect. At Trinitas we also grade students using a variation of the aforementioned marks.
We should all be familiar with Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew chapter 6 to seek the kingdom of God rather than chase after the things we think we need. He doesn’t say we should forget about the things we think we need—food, clothes, the important stuff—but that those things will be added to us if we will seek first the kingdom of God. The idea seems to be that seeking after food and clothing (and fill in the blank) is something akin to getting so blinded by individual trees that we become unable to see the forest. Or worse: Jesus seems to be cautioning us against a form of idolatry, against letting our material needs (and wants) take the place of God as the focus of our worship and devotion.