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The New School Run

By Kathryn Kendall | 8 October 2020

There’s a queue outside the school gate. It’s an orderly queue, with a vague 2m between adults, children in neat uniforms that have received their yearly iron, faces both excited and slightly overwhelmed to see friends again. Hand sanitiser is at the ready, face masks are in pockets (just in case) and admiring nods are given to the vigorous signage announcing the one way system around the school.

But then, there is a cough… Anxious heads whip around trying to find the source. Glaring glances are given. Stressed whispered remarks in hushed tones about "didn’t they read the guidance", "have they maybe been abroad recently", "do you think their siblings will be going into school", and "I would never…"

So begins a term unlike any other, with parents on high alert, and schools faced with complicated challenges.  

And in light of Covid-19, caution is responsible. Keeping our families and neighbours safe has become a necessary practical consideration in all of our daily activities. Making decisions to protect those around us is the right thing to do.

Which takes us back to the school gate. Sharp glances, stressed murmurings, and snap judgements feel like the natural reaction in the midst of the daily weight of responsibility we feel for our family’s safety. However in Philippians 4:5 Paul issues a challenge, ‘Let your gentleness be evident to all.’

How are we to respond to those who have made a different call than we would in their situation? With gentleness. That might involve challenging something in a gracious manner. It might mean taking extra precautions without trying to attract attention. It might mean choosing not to glare behind us, or gossip with others, or mutter under our breath. It might mean bending down to pray with our child that God would keep us safe while we’re apart. It might involve choosing to be generous in our assumptions about the motives of others.

All parents are likely to wake up one morning over the winter torn deliberating between whether our child has a cold or a new continuous cough. When that happens, our own choice of action might not be the same call our church friends or neighbours would make. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 Jesus exhorts us to be ‘meek’, ‘merciful’, and ‘peacemakers’, rather than assuming we know all the facts about someone else’s situation, or stirring up bad feeling among other parents around how an issue is being handled in the school.

The theory is clear but the practice is hard. When you are standing in a school run queue, feeling concerned about how your child will settle back, worried about them bringing germs home, hoping you have remembered everything in the school’s new protocols, reminding them for the sixth time to wash their hands frequently, it does not come naturally to respond to a cough from behind you with gentleness.

In these uncertain times we need God’s grace to help us react in this way more than ever. Maybe praying while standing in the queue is a good place to start: praying that God would help us grow in the fruit of the Spirit and look out for others who are also finding this new world difficult to navigate.


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