Written by Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan, Visitation Alumna
Whew, talk about thresholds, nothing seems so cyclical as the start of the school year to give a gentle and stunning reminder of the sacred walk of liminal space. When you are no longer on one side of the bridge and are yet to reach the other end, you my friend are indeed in the glorious and troublesome in-between space of becoming. Some argue this is a constant if you are to truly live out your vocation of being authentically human and real.
Children in north Minneapolis mark this threshold by attending the back to school party the Sisters host where supplies are given to prepare them for the doorways they are about to cross. We give children not only school supplies, but also we hope, coping supplies to handle the nervouseness, the anxiety, the anticipation, the excitement, the dread, the unknown of what will this next year at this school hold for me? Will I be loved? Will I be recognized? Will I have friends? Will I find familiar faces in my classroom? On my playground? In my neighborhood? Will my teacher like me? Can I go from getting into trouble a lot to no longer? Will people recognize the change, the growth, the maturity that the bounty of summer has graced me with as green leaves give way to fall colors? Will my reputation proceed me? Or my brother or sister’s reputation light the path for me or cause me to work extra hard to change perceptions laid? Will my mom and dad be ok without me? What will after school feel like when I have worked hard all day to hold it together for my new teacher? My new classmates? My new environment? Will my gifts of bug catching, noticing colors, recognizing faces, making friends, be honored and encouraged? Will my teacher, my principal, my school be a nice place to spend a lot of my time? Will I feel safe and loved enough to be authentically myself?
St. Francis de Sales instructs how to calm the anxious nervous energies of our little ones by role modeling inner peace for them, we invite them into the calm:
Finding Inner Peace
“Do not anticipate the events of this life with anxiety, but await them with a sure hope that as they occur, God to whom we belong will deliver you from them. God has protected you up to now, just hold on securely to the hands of Divine Providence which will help you in every circumstances, carrying you when you cannot walk. So do not think what would happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and every day, either protecting you from evil or giving you invincible courage to bear it. Remain at peace then, and remove from your imagination whatever could trouble you.
Belong totally to God, think of God who will be thinking of you. God has drawn you to Himself so that you may belong to Him and God will take care of you. Do not be afraid, for as little chicks feel perfectly safe when they are under their mother’s wings, how secure should the children of God feel under His maternal protection, so be at peace, since you are one of His little children, and let your weary restless heart rest against this sacred loving breast of your Savior, who by His providence is a Father to His children and by gentle tender love is a Mother to them.
First thing in the morning, prepare your heart to be at peace and take great care throughout the day to call it back to that peace frequently, so to speak to take your heart back in your hand. If you happen to do something that you regret, you need not be astonished nor upset, but having acknowledge to your failing, humble yourself gently before God and try to regain your composure. Say to yourself, “there we have made a mistake, but let’s go on now and be more careful”. Every time you fall do the same.
When you innerly peaceful, don’t miss the opportunity to act as gently as you can and as frequently as you can, no matter how insignificant the occassion may be, for as our Lord says: “To the person who is faithflul in little things, greater one will be given”.Often says in the midst trials: This is the way to heaven, I see the port ahead and I’m sure that storms cannot prevent me from reaching it.
“My eyes are always on the Lord who frees my feet from the trap”. If you’ve been caught in the trap of life’s difficulties, well, you must not look at your own situation nor the trap that holds you, look at God, let God act and take care of you, cast your burden on the Lord who will nurse you. Why get involved in the pros and cons of things that happening in your life that is out of your control? You don’t really know what is ultimately the best. And God will manage quite well without You putting yourself to a trouble. SO with your mind at peace, await whatever happens. Let the Divine Will be enough for you, since it is always very good.
As God directed St. Catherine of Siena: “Think of me, and I will think of you”.
So as our children begin school, assure them that our bonds defy distance. That God’s love for them shown through our love of them protects and surrounds them with light, love and the courage to learn and grow. That sharing their gifts makes them authentically who they are called to be on earth. That the thread attached to our hearts unravels outward with them as they join their wider community where they share what makes them shine with others. We can watch in amazement, gratitude, and excitement that what was once will never be again. And trust with inner peace that what they are becoming will become again even more beautiful, fiercely dear, and wildly wonderful. We walk in faith with our children’s growth of becoming. It is a walk into the holy liminal space of inner peace. Cultivate inner peace. Pray for it. Share it with our children.