Chuck Terrill: Summer time

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

I loved summer as a kid.

I associated summer with freedom: freedom from school, teachers and homework. On the last day of school each year I was excited, and at the same time, anxious.   


I was excited to get home and get started on all of my summer plans. As I skipped home from elementary school on the last day, I would sing a celebration song: 

School’s out, school’s out, Teacher let the mules out. 

No more reading, no more books,

No more teacher’s dirty looks.

School’s out, school’s out, Teacher let the mules out,

One went east, one went west, one ran up the teacher’s dress.

School’s out, school’s out.

(Repeat a hundred gazillion times) 

My “school’s out” excitement was always tinged with anxiety. I never really had to fret about my grades, but I still worried that the box on the report card titled: "Has Been Promoted," would not be checked. I was fearful that the box, next to my name, "Has Been Retained" would be marked instead.

My final report card had always been marked "Has Been Promoted," but, nevertheless, I was anxious. I knew my teachers had the power to fail me, and keep me in their classroom another year, just so they wouldn’t miss me.    

I sang the silly song but I didn’t mean it. I liked school, but I pretended that I didn’t. It was the macho thing to do. It dates me to talk about a time when teachers in public schools wore dresses. It seems like a long time ago. We erected Christmas trees in our classrooms and decorated them. We learned and said “The Lord’s Prayer” in unison every day before we went to the lunchroom. We made and delivered May baskets, and learned to wind the Maypole.

Our teachers checked daily to make sure our fingernails were clean and that we had washed behind our ears. We got a star on our attendance chart if everything was just as it was supposed to be. I’ll bet that I received a hundred-thousand stars throughout my academic career, but I never got a star on the line that said: “works quietly without disturbing others.” 

As I get older, I know that there is more school behind me than there is ahead of me. I’ll keep learning, there’s no doubt about that; I decided a long time ago to be a lifelong learner. But I still feel the combination of excitement and anxiety that I associate with the last day of school.

Why? Because I am excited about going home, yet a little anxious about my final grade. Someday, I want to read my name in “The Lamb’s Book of Life,” and see that the box next to it is checked “has been promoted.” What a graduation that will be! And the song of passage? How about:

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive. 

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; 

Because Thy promise I believe, 

O Lamb of God, I come! I come. 

(Repeat a thousand gazillion times)

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.