No one knew what was in store when students headed back to school in the fall of 2019. Pastor Dan Hart offers a prayer for education in Michigan during the season of COVID-19.
Pastor, Mount Clemens First UMC
Michigan schools remain closed for the year. I think closing the schools was the right choice, and I support our Michigan leadership in that choice. I still think there is a need to acknowledge the circumstances and all those who are hurting from the decision.
And so, I offer this Prayer of Lament for Our Students in Michigan.
O Lord, what is there to do for those who are hurting? What can be done when life feels unfair?
God, I pray for students of all ages, who learned with finality, that they won’t return to school this year.
I pray for daycare kids and preschoolers who are too young to understand why they can’t see their teachers and friends. I pray for the children who miss their safe spaces to play and their loving teachers who help them learn the foundational pieces that carry them throughout their lives. I pray for the stories unread, the songs unsung, the play-scapes unconquered, and the vast number of character-plastered band-aids left undeployed.
I pray for elementary students who will miss their classes and opportunities. For the children who thrive through being challenged, who depend upon school meals, who have learned to socialize and flourish, who are known deeply by their teachers and staff. I pray for the loss of memories of joy, for every kickball and hula-hoop left in the gym closet and not on the field day grass, for every back seat of a school bus not occupied by the fastest or boldest 5th grader, for every sibling squad not strolling home together sharing about their day.
I pray for every middle schooler who will miss their networks, who will lose this time to share the transformation from child to teen. I pray for all our young ones who have spent this year finding themselves as musician, athlete, gamer, socialite, scholar, or more, and now feel stuck at home without a place to fully share who they want to be. I pray for the school administrators and teachers whose soul and passion is for students at an age of change whose hearts are breaking at the loss of positive connection. I pray for every awkward dance left on the cafeteria floor, for every locker left undecorated, for every yearbook crack left unsigned, for every 8th grader who doesn’t get a chance to orient to high school and walk around the school with their heads held high for the last time for years to come.
I pray for our high schoolers whose only answer to the daily battle of worth is the community of people who pick them up with their acts of care. I pray for each moment of self-reliance stripped back, for each moment of young, unrealistic love, shunted, for each moment of triumph and tribulation avoided, and for the power of spirit and belonging being brought back into the closet. I pray for the loss of band competition medals, for quizzes not making it to the bowls, for the winning shot not falling on the court or the stage, for the winnable wallflowers not breaking the polls to win king or queen. I especially pray for the seniors who have been amped for this moment to shine and seeing it piece by piece falling away, all because of a novel virus that took away their storybook ending.
I pray for our school staff educators who didn’t get to say goodbye. Who didn’t get to reconcile their last hard conversation with students. I pray for our teachers who left their last lesson, planning for it not to be the last, and leaving the lessons most needed on their list for days meant to come. I pray for the call of our teachers to do their best for their students who feel helpless to complete the task.
I pray for the vulnerable. For families without options for childcare. For parents feeling ill-equipped. For students dependent on the structure of school in an otherwise chaotic life. For the children with special education needs who may not be included in broad stroke electronic expectations. For meal-dependent children who may not eat. For those without technology, and internet that have perpetually been given unequal opportunity, being moved forward while being left behind once again. I pray for those who have lost their refuge, their champion, their squad, their family.
God, you are bigger than our doubts, you are stronger than our fears, and so today I say, GOD, I KNOW YOU ARE PRESENT, BUT THIS HURTS! Something can be the right decision and still cut deep. Losing a school year hurts the ones who are already hurting the most. God, shelter the vulnerable, like Jesus cared for the lost and forgotten. Here and now, Lord, help those who are left without a chance to advocate, germinate, contemplate, and matriculate. Help those who are broken by what is happening to live in the reality of their feelings yet still, have a chance for hope. Help us to be that hope. Help us to be your answer.
~ Reprinted from Facebook with permission. On April 2, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer closed Michigan classrooms for the school year due to coronavirus. NPR reports on April 16, 2020 that half of the nation’s public school students are home for the school year.