By Doug Jackson
Every Fall I get nostalgic about school supplies. I pass those candy-bright shelves in the local grocery store and can barely resist buying myself a new three-ring binder, a sheaf of college-ruled loose-leaf paper, a packet of pens, one of pencils, some erasers, and one of those nifty little plastic pouches to carry it all in – the kind that fits on the rings of the aforementioned notebook. Oh, and spirals – at least three. Somehow, it all seems so hopeful, invoking those moments when one was a child and the summer seemed vast enough to make a new school year a kind of tabula rasa. C. S. Lewis writes of “being troubled with what I can only describe as the Idea of Autumn. It sounds fantastic to say that one can be enamored of a season, but that is something like what happened.” And that is something like what led to this sonnet.
“I WILL get notebooks every year! I’ll go to grad school!”
– A friend’s college student daughter upon being asked, “Sweetheart, what are you going to do when you graduate and no longer get to go shop for notebooks every year?”
This year I’ll take the bus to school. This year
I’ll ride my bike to where I’ll catch the bus:
Two modes of transportation I foreswore
Those years ago when I became grown up.
My road resumes the rhythm of the fall
From which I fell. Attended on my way
By clouds of glory I trudged west and saw
Celestial light go down to common day.
I cannot put away the childish things,
Become a man, embrace a man’s estate,
Unless within I seek my childlike King,
Forsake the latest thing forever late.
May autumn lead me on, not back, this year,
This year, this year – Quick! Quick! Stand still and hear!
Doug Jackson is a preacher/professor/poet who after a quarter-century in the pastorate now teaches spiritual formation, pastoral ministry, and Greek for the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies in Corpus Christi. His collection of poetry, Nothing There is Not More, is available from Finishing Line Press.