A letter, to my friends about to return to college

It’s starting to look a lot like late August. The cicadas are humming again, the late-summer sun has that intensity that only happens this time of the year, and –though I could’ve been just imagining it– I happened to catch a tree on my drive yesterday just about to glow itself from green to yellow.

And, for the first time in a couple years, I’m not prepping my car for five-day-a-week long drives, loading my backpack for another semester of studies, buying books for another year. I’m missing the rise of energy inside that always comes this time of the year.

I’m done.

Kind of hard to believe –I mean, yes, I’m still doing grad school, but this year I’ll be studying from home. Granted, I’ve been a card-carrying (mortgage-holding, tax-paying) citizen of the Real World for twenty five years now, so the transition back home shouldn’t be this hard …but it is. So, since I can’t go back, I thought I’d send my greetings and wish you a great year and, true to my character, give you a few things to think about.

If you’ve been through this “going back to college” ritual a few times, you know how it goes. By mid-October, all the magic will have worn off and it’ll be back to the hard work of the every day student. You’ll have adjusted to a new living situation, gotten settled, and you might feel tempted to start to let the days slide into each other.


Whether it’s your first year or your fourth (or more), when your feet hit the floor in the morning, try something different this year: greet the Lord, take a deep breath, and place the next twenty-four hours in His hands. Do it whether it feels silly or not. Because these four years are going to be some of the fastest years of your life. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s sometimes amazingly so full of joy you feel like your body can’t contain it, sometimes it’s so full of sorrow you aren’t sure how you manage to breathe –but it goes so fast.

For the last two years, after sending my kids off to school and kissing my husband goodbye, I’ve started my days with a long drive in to school praying over the day ahead, parking my car outside the classroom building –the “old door,” you know if you know campus, the one opposite the President’s house–  walked down the path under the crabapple tree, wrapped my hand around that old broad-shouldered brass handle, pulled the door open, and breathed a silent prayer every morning, paraphrased from Psalm 19:14 –

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight.

I believe that little ritual saved my life a few times. It definitely eased a few difficult days and made me more aware that in every moment, He is present, and the things that seem insurmountable can be taken one moment at a time more easily when you realize this story you’re living isn’t written by yourself.

So, off you go. Have a wonderful year. Know that you are not alone, that the work you do every day matters, whether you “use” that major you’re working on or not. The things you learn here will travel with you through your entire life.

Don’t waste a moment of it. Know that you are loved far beyond the reaches of your fear, and let your voice echo beyond the four years you’re at this place.