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Here’s to You, Students and Teachers

Back. To. School.

I’ve had the opportunity to live into these words on a number of occasions; this year, I get to as a teacher. And I am somewhat surprised to discover that I have just as much, if not more, anxiety then when I was a student.

So let me first say this: students, be kind to your teachers. We are scared too.

I think that both teachers and students realize what a tremendous responsibility a new year represents. It looms before us, like a blank sheet of paper, full of promise yet maddeningly empty. It is a struggle with the unknown, indeed, the unknowable. So, yes, it takes courage just to begin, just to put pen to paper, just to set foot in the classroom.

Back. To. School? Good. For. You!

Yet, like the perfect wine with its complementary entrée, courage should be paired with the virtue, humility. Or, perhaps the most courageous attitude is humility. The courage to admit humbly: I do not have all the answers. I will make mistakes. I will sometimes be distracted. I will let others down. I will let myself down.

But – and this is a big adversative conjunction folks – I will be open to learning, in whatever ways I can, however effectively I can, for whatever good I can bring into the world. Now, I would drink to that!

Better yet, offer a toast; raise any beverage you’d like. Here’s to all those going back to school with courage and humility. May John Berryman’s words ring true for you:

May I stand until death forever at attention; for any your least instruction or enlightenment. I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty. 

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.

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