This is the time of year when cars are loaded with all conceivable items to make the room of a college student comfortable.  Certainly the items that are deemed necessary are much beyond the simple things that students went to college with, years ago.  They probably went with a typewriter, clothes, some blankets and pillows, some photos and posters to adorn their room and that was all that was needed.   All was much simpler.  We know that what is needed to outfit a dorm room these days is much more complicated.  Computers, a kit to build a loft, a microwave, a television, a refrigerator and countless other items seem to be necessary.  

The results are the same, however, as the time is bittersweet. I am speaking primarily of the first child heading off to college.  Tears may be shed by both parents and grandparents because although the young man or woman is ready to begin a new phase of life, there is the knowledge that they will be missed at home. Yet there is joy in seeing them launch into a new phase of life.  

One of the concerns that might be felt is whether or not, the young man or woman will remain faithful to the spiritual life that has been nourished in the home.  If the home of origin included Sunday worship, will the young person find that he or she is now willing to attend a place of worship?  Parents and grandparents might ask themselves whether the commitment to Jesus Christ will be continued in their life now.  A few weeks ago in a gospel from John concluding the Bread of Life discourse, we find that the early believers found the teachings of Jesus difficult.  Some left and went their own way.  

We need to face the reality that we cannot control another person’s spiritual life.  God is a patient God and calls each person to God’s self.  Each young person will be safe in the love of God whether they realize it or not.  When the time is right, they will respond.  God loves us in such a way that God is always open to our seeking the way, the truth and the life.  It will look different for each person.  God is patient waiting for us.  What we can do as parents and grandparents is to serve models of faith each in our own way demonstrating that God loves us. We demonstrate this love by how patient we can be in allowing God to be in charge.   

– Helen Ackermann