As we stand poised on the brink of a new program year and summer transitioning to fall, we are regathering and “re-emerging“, continuing to learn how to coexist with COVID. Schools are reopening and classes resuming. This past Tuesday morning, our parish hall was buzzing with the energy of parents from our Redeemer Parish Day School mingling over coffee. My own daughter Grace and son Ben are back at school (a senior in college and a freshman in high school … ummmm, where did the time go?!). Email boxes and calendars are filling up, invitations to various opportunities coming in.

For some, this shift in energy feels welcome, a longtime coming, and reenergizing: “Finally! Here we go!!” For others, it brings cause for even more pause, and feels a bit daunting and disorienting: “Oh my! Uh-oh, here we go??” Many of us, I imagine, may find ourselves somewhere on the spectrum between these two poles.

As I reflect on this shifting of tides and seasons, my seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Brizendine, comes to mind and heart. Mrs. Brizendine wore a fun-loving, pseudo-mischievous grin and blue-rimmed glasses. She charged us a nickel every time we misused and abused the word “like” (“like, ummm, OMG!), and she would sit on the edge of her desk and run her thumb across the pages of the book we were reading, lifting it to her face and smelling its particular scent.

Her handwritten comments of “awkward” and “wordy”, scrawled in red marker on the margins of my papers, still draw my attention, in my memory; as does her enthusiastic exhortation to all of us students, to “show” her and not “tell” her, with our writing.

“Show me, don’t tell me! Show me what you mean, describe it to me! Engage all your senses with mine; paint a picture — an image — with your words. What does what you’re trying to describe sound like? Smell like? Feel like? What colors do you want me to see? Show me, don’t tell me …”

It was her counsel I recalled yesterday, in response to words I read, written by author Jack Kornfield: “In the end, these things matter most. How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” As I reread and digested these questions, Jesus’ voice in John’s gospel echoed alongside: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (NRSV) or “I have come in order that you might have life — life in all its fullness” (Good News).

How well did you love?

How fully did you live?

How deeply did you let go?

“I have come in order that you might have life, life in all its fullness.”

As we discern how to move forward into a new season of journeying together, day by day by day  — What do I choose? What do I “put back” on my plate and on my calendar? What do I “let go”? — may Jack’s questions and Jesus’ voice guide us. And, as Mrs. Brizendine would say, “Show me, don’t tell me.”