With no disrespect to the month of January or even to July 1, the month of August always presented itself as a time for new beginnings. Certainly, January marks a new calendar year and all the hopes that are bound up in our resolutions. And July 1 begins a new fiscal year for many organizations, time to reset those budgets. But there are so many milestones in my life that began to unfold in August.
The start of school usually came on the heels of a traditional early August family vacation on an idyllic lake in Ontario. Every fourth August marked the transition to the fall political campaigns that captivated me. Forty-five years ago this month, I entered the Jesuit novitiate to begin a profound spiritual journey, and in August 1986 I left the USA to live for two years in the Philippines, a journey that was to change my life forever.
And so here we are, in 2020, not knowing if students can return to school. No one in our family was able to get over the Canadian border to that idyllic lake. Slowly, hopefully—and with uncertainty—we tiptoe back into some of our missed routines of work, play, getting to Mass, shopping, and eating out, hoping to argue about something important.
But we just don’t know what’s going to happen, and we hate not knowing. But for me, August was always a month of not knowing, and that was exciting, even if a bit nerve-racking. I got to set off into a new grade or a new chapter or a new adventure. I did not know what was going to happen, so I had to be ready to greet the experience, even embrace it. I had to learn to expect the unexpected. What are we learning this August, what new adventure is set before us? Can we discern what God is calling us to during this time? What is the new beginning into which August invites us?
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.