By Judy Brandon: CNJ columnist
Well its official! School supplies are out at all the stores. Newspapers are full of ads on school supplies. With the passing of July 4th, it seems that summer vacation is on the downside and anyone can tell that by seeing the endless supplies of backpacks, school paper, pencils, pens, markers, glue and other school supplies stacked on the stores’ shelves.
Ah… the days of school supplies. While cleaning out some old boxes the other day, I found some old school pictures, Bible school certificates, a red reader from first grade and my first grade class picture with all of us standing on the steps of Meserve School in Kansas City, Kansas. I even found an old faded school supply list from my third grade year. After all these years, I don’t need those third grade supplies. Yet that list symbolized some items that might be appropriate for adulthood in a hypothetical way.
That supply list read: a cigar box for supplies, a wooden ruler, glue, an art gum eraser, crayons and a box of Kleenex. That list was for childhood and third grade. On the other hand, adults in this life often times deal with challenging situations and the resulting emotions of life’s situations. A look at that old school supply list might bring some similarities for adult life on a more abstract level.
In elementary school, a cigar box was used to keep one’s school supplies and resources organized for easy accessibility. As adults, our resources are family, friends and community. There are larger resources at a greater level. These are defined for most of us in the parameters of faith that houses the framework of support for life.
Then there was the wooden ruler. In elementary school it was easy to draw straight lines with a ruler as a guide. Yet, sometime, somewhere along the way in life, we have to measure what we think and how we feel in regard to morals, values, attitudes and life in general. One can with a mental ruler evaluate, analyze, assess, consider, and review what is heard and learned and experienced in adult life.
Don’t forget the art gum eraser. Adults probably don’t need an eraser every day but some of us may need mental erasers. I failed third grade. As an adult I have had to learn from many past failures. I have had to erase those failing events over the years from my mind and “press on” as the Apostle Paul wrote.
Then there was Crayons. Nothing was as wonderful as the smell of a brand new box of crayons for me! We may not need Crayons in adulthood. If we just stop to notice, there are tremendous colors in this world that God has given us.
Finally, a box of Kleenex was on the list. That was a necessity in third grade. As adults, we might still need access to those. When loved ones die, or life changes, I have cried. Sometimes emotional hurts have been so deep that no tears came. Nonetheless, my heart was sobbing. We adults may still need a box of Kleenex from time to time.
Well I did fail the third grade and I am here to tell it. But the wonderful thing is that in spite of my failures and disappointments since that third grade school supply list, I made it to see my own children through school and college.
Those supplies lists, whether new or old, are still relevant — in more ways that one.