For the past nine months, I’ve walked into school, laptop bag slung over my shoulder. Each day I walk in a little different, sometimes tired, sometimes excited, sometimes even anxious or afraid. Imagine walking into your own workplace: can you see yourself? Day in and day out, the same path (we are, after all, creatures of habit.) We might balance our coffee and keys, juggle our cell phones and bags, carrying both silly and profound notions. Thoughts like: “Did I wipe that deodorant stain from my shirt?” and “Will I be who people want me to be?” (Which, if we are honest, are really the same questions.)
So I walk into work carrying things in my head and hands, and nearly every day for the past nine months, a student named Nick has held the door open. He did for every teacher. He is tall and lanky and kind. His clothes and his words were comfortingly predictable, like the worn-in couch in your parents’ family room where you’re allowed to sleep even while everyone else talks around you. “Good morning, have a nice day,” he would always say. Around November, I learned his name. I know I should have earlier. Our mantra became “Good morning, Nick, how are you?” and he’d respond with “Good, how are you?” And then, of course, predictably, he’d finish: “Have a nice day.”
This comfortable predictability became a natural part of my morning. That’s why I was surprised when yesterday, after I said my line of “How are you?” Nick broke from the script. He tilted his head and struggled to find words. “Fine, I…. It’s….” I stopped short. The script indicated I was supposed to walk in and smile and go to class, but that’s not what happened. “Why just fine?” I ad libbed. He paused, looking down: “Well, it’s my last day today.”
I hadn’t even realized he was senior. And because my heart could see he was a bit sad and nervous and maybe even a little scared, I heard myself say something cliche and comforting about the exciting nature of an unknown future. But my graduation-card platitude wasn’t enough. Graduation cards are never enough.
Graduating seniors and incoming kindergartners, newlyweds and new moms, born-again believers and skeptics with new questions: we’re all standing on the edge of New. We’ve all been there– our toes dangling on the precipice of Mystery, no longer comforted by a well-established script. We hear the increased cadence of our hearts and we wonder– We wonder what will come.
And in our wondering, we’re reminded we’re alive. I know I sometimes forget what New feels like– I get marred in the everyday mantra of routine. But I think forgetting what new feels like is forgetting what Life feels like. Because New is what the Spirit promises.
The director of Life has only one agenda, and that is Love. Everything else in the script is up to us. Really– every day you walk into work, every first breath you take– it’s all really the edge of new. We walk into our days carrying things in our head and hands, and each morning offers us an opportunity to breathe in the new and let go of the old. Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it’s sad, but mostly it is beautiful.
Beautiful because New is the promise of every day.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. -John 3