Back to school

By Father Haynes Q Hubbard [email protected]

Fr. Haynes Hubbard, along with Fr. Bob Bates, is a Chaplain for St. Vincent’s Church of England Chaplaincy here in the Algarve.

It’s all very exciting, albeit a little nerve wracking. It’s the first day of school and while the children are not entering a new school, they have moved up a level: now they are in the ‘Upper School’, with all its demands and responsibilities.

Will they possibly be able to manage? What will their teachers be like? What have their friends been doing all summer? Have their experiences matched those of their classmates? Will things still be the same, after the summer break?

So many questions: so many unknowns. It is frightening, yet exciting. New beginnings. New challenges. Old ones to be taken up again.

New friends to be made and old ones to be grateful for. That’s what the end of summer brings: if you are 12 years old.

All of us who live here in the Algarve are used to new beginnings. Most of us have experienced them in the not-too-distant past. We moved here: from where-ever ‘home’ was. And now this is our home: and we make of it what we can.

We hope we are doing a good job. We hope we are making friends who really care. We hope we are growing in wisdom, and maturity (and not just girth).

And to grow such we need to listen. To observe. To consciously, and conscientiously, not always fill up spaces with words. We need, if we are to be any different next year than this, to accept that we do not know it all. We call children who suggest they know everything tiresome and insufferable: because clearly they do not. It is the same with any generation.

We have much to learn. From one another and about one another. And in such learning, we become, gradually, bit by bit, what we are meant to be. People who know, respect and acknowledge what is real about the people around us.

That they matter just as much as we do. And the more we realise that, and act upon it, the richer will our lives be. It is what we expect, and what we give thanks for from our schools.

Such a process of learning is what we discover in a church as well; any church. Sometimes the message gets lost in translation: sometimes people get in the way.

We all know some schools are better than others. But all of them are seeking to offer the children they are responsible for an opportunity for those children to grow: in spirit and in knowledge. Our churches here in the Algarve are the same. We use different techniques, different means.

But we have only one aim. To enable every single person who comes through the doors an opportunity to experience, and to know, the extra-ordinary love, and welcome, which Jesus Christ has offered every single one of us.

An opportunity to know that you count. And you, just you, are welcome. To live, and live well, through what He has made possible.

Perhaps this autumn, as the children go back to school, you and your family might consider this as an invitation to go back to Church.

I know I speak for every Church in the Algarve when I say how welcome you would be.

Fr. Haynes Hubbard can be contacted by email at [email protected]