September always seems more new year-ish than January. ‘Term beeps’ (anagram of September) and yes, the alarm clock beeps the start of a new term, indeed a new academic year. Do you remember the day you started school? I don’t, but I recall odd bits about that first year at school: an after lunch nap on rush mats, the singing of ‘Farmer, farmer, sow your seed, up the field and down…”, tearful tumbles and bloodied knees speckled with ashy bits of playground, the forbidden pile of coal by the bike sheds, a Wendy house with its miniature kitchen.
Life still revolves around the 7 or 8 weeks of work punctured by half term holidays and longer Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.
Our lives are a pattern of work and leisure, exertion and rest, ‘a time for everything’ – as the somewhat gloomy philosopher of Ecclesiastes wrote. It is God, he says, who sets the time for birth and death, for planting and harvest, for sorrow and joy, for mourning and dancing, for silence and talk. The philosopher doesn’t rate life too highly: “What do we gain from all our work?” – a question that perhaps is echoed by schoolchildren and adults alike. He does recognise, however, that we live in God’s world and it is God who creates and sustains the world and regulates the seasons, giving each of us opportunities to love, work and simply enjoy being alive.
The world can look bleak at times and perhaps you start September in low spirits. Whatever your circumstances, whatever stage of life you are in, God has said he will never abandon you. If September brings new beginnings for you, remember, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid.”