Within the Sound of Silence

It was eerily quiet yesterday at the neighborhood pool where I swim laps. The only sound was that of the water with each stroke I took. Gone was the cute little girl in the pink suit who accidentally kicked me in the nose when she crossed my lane to join her friends. Gone were the two little dark-haired boys who reminded me so much of my own two at their ages. They spent most of the summer mastering spitting water between their front teeth, and I could still imagine their giggles echoing off the walls. But yesterday I was the only person in the entire pool area. Even the teen-aged lifeguard was missing, replaced by a sign that read, “Warning: No lifeguard on duty.”

Where were they all? They all went back to school. As I swam I wondered how their day was going. Was the little girl dressed in her new fall clothes, her hair pulled back in a curly ponytail with a pink scrunchie? Were the boys wearing their stiff new jeans and already counting the minutes till recess? Had the lifeguard traded his terminally bored expression for a grin when he saw familiar faces again?

Of course my mind also lingered on images of our own twelve grandchildren as I made my way down and back, down and back, in the cool water. Each time my smart phone chirped to tell me I had a text this week it was another back-to-school photo sent by a proud and thoughtful mom.  These images and more flooded my mind as I swam and prayed, swam and prayed.

Back-to-school time means so much more than new backpacks, cool outfits and sharp pencils, doesn’t it? More than anything it’s a time of hope—a time when everything feels new and all things seem possible.

It’s the year for milestones in our family.  We waved two granddaughters off to college, one for the first time, after they stopped by our house on their way. I let the images of them leaving our driveway, their cars packed to the hilt, linger in my mind for a lap or two. Three more granddaughters started high school this year. How grown up they looked in their first-day photos. But I knew the butterflies we couldn’t see were there, too, so I prayed they would feel confident and connect with at least one good friend.

Two grandsons and a granddaughter started middle school, heading into those years when they want to be cool and accepted so badly it’s painful. I prayed they would allow themselves to lighten up and have some fun. Being a teenager can wait.

So that leaves four more, all boys: two headed to first grade, one to kindergarten, and one to preschool! All these milestones deserve to be celebrated and prayed over, but none more so than that of our grandson Josh who is challenged by brain damage but leaving his home and parents for the first time to go to first grade! I don’t know who is showing more bravery, he or his parents.

Lord, be with all the children we know and those we don’t as they go to school this year. Whether in our country or in third world countries where just one sharp pencil might be a treasure beyond belief, they are precious in your sight. Bless them, Lord, and keep them safe as they grow and learn under your watchful eye. In You we always have a lifeguard on duty.


  1. Loved this one.

  2. Michael Rhoda says:


  3. Very special Nancy!

  4. Loved every word!

  5. Nice reflection of your thoughts. Our 7 grandchildren are at similar stages in life and I am sure the emotions of a week ago (when they started back to school) have glints of similarity. Do any of your grandchildren live near enough
    to share day to day with you and Jim?

  6. Janell Gaskins says:

    Thank you Nancy. As the mother of two teenage boys, I was very touched by your words.

    • Thanks, all! Cheryl, as of this month we have a granddaughter attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs so we’re excited about that! Hopefully we’ll see her when she gets homesick. We have two families living in Colorado, but don’t see anyone on a daily basis. Just blessed to have them all.

  7. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    Memories come flooding back. Most of my grandkids are now parents and that means 9 great grandchildren going to school, some for the first time. 5 more to go. (at the moment). Your lovely piece brings my family closer to me. Thanks, Nancy

  8. This one might be my favorite of all. Loved it.

  9. alice scott-ferguson says:

    words woven into a tapestry of wondrous beauty!
    read it with a lump forming in my throat]
    tears filling my eyes…masterful as ever!

  10. Suzanne Surber Underwood says:

    I felt every word in your prayer and joined you in my heart with such a loving and thoughtful provoking prayer. God bless you dear friend.

  11. Wonderful, Nancy.
    This IS a time of hope, for children and grandchildren , for growth at every stage.
    Prayers for all our students, and special prayers for Josh, his parents and teachers.

  12. Thank you, Marylin. He’s a brave little guy!

  13. This post was great. I can’t believe with the start of school this year, I don’t have a kid in grade school. You are the best grammy ever.

  14. Thanks, Julie. I’ve loved seeing how grown up Jacob and Jessa are now! The next years are going to fly by for you guys!

  15. Wonderful to have met you today, I really enjoy your writing style. As a parent of a 3 year old and 6 month old kids going off to school are still a few years down the road but it is exciting to see what lies ahead.

  16. Thanks, Brian! How kind of you to have looked me up after our brief encounter. Take care.

  17. Nancy, I so track with you on this blog. I woke up during the night praying and continued praying as the day wore on. I too got a couple photos of back to school new outfits and brave smiles. I had helped them pick out their new outfits and have been praying all summer for good friends and understanding teachers. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m not involved on that day with getting them off to school, but I know that we have an extremely important position of “praying grandma” that no one else can do. Dads are working and Moms are super-busy, so the majority of praying needs to be accomplished by us.. Thanks for your blog, Nancy!

  18. This was so encouraging and thanks for the prayer.

  19. Thanks, Sharon. It’s my honor and privilege!

  20. You are blessed to have 12 grandchildren. The special prayers for Josh reminds me of the daily prayers I have for our one and only grandchild, Ethan, who happens to be autistic. He will be in third grade this year and making progress in his own ways. He is a joy and a blessing for us and I do pray for all special needs children and all who care for them. A new school year always brings hope and is a challenge for all. Thanks Nancy for all your inspiring writings.

    • It sounds like Ethan is doing amazingly well. I’m so glad, Joan. Thanks for sharing a bit of his story with me. May he have his best year yet!

  21. As always, Nancy, your words uplift and inspire, and I thank you.
    I’ve nominated you for “The Sunshine Award.” Please go to my blog, read the information, and accept this tribute to your blog.

  22. Jan Keller says:

    Nancy, no matter what, you and your writing always win a ‘Sunshine Award’ in my heart. Good luck with the competition — and thank you!

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