When I walked into the kitchen on Teresa’s first morning of seventh grade, I found her at the table, with a doughnut and cup of coffee in front of her. She might as well have had a black plastic lunchbox and steel Thermos as she set off for a hard day’s work. While her coffee was mostly milk, I understood the need. The beginning of the school year marks not just the turn into fall we are taking but also new, more solid schedule for the whole family, one with earlier wakeup times and more responsibilities. I was looking forward to my coffee that morning too. Then again, I look forward to my coffee pretty much every morning. Maybe I’m just passing my caffeine addiction on to my youngest? That afternoon, she showed me her binder, complete with color-coded folders for each subject and an assignment notebook, the same setup she’s had since she was in third grade. In fact, this year she decided to ditch the hard white plastic binder that was included in the ordered-ahead box of school supplies; she went to the basement and found her first school binder, from third grade, which is fabric-covered and purple and boasts a convenient carrying strap. When she moved everything over, she took out her third-grade assignment notebook and put it back in the basement for safekeeping. It was her first ever planner, she explained. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she will have many planners, and one day will not care what day of the week spelling tests were when she was 8. I also didn’t mention that it’s been years since I used a paper planner; I live by the calendars on my phone and computers — something she did when she was doing school at home during the pandemic, but can’t do at school. Whatever the case, it’s important to be prepared, to pay attention to what’s coming up, to know what the plan is, or, at a more basic level, to have a plan. Even if it’s written in pencil so you can make changes as you go. That’s not a bad idea for our spiritual lives, either. While we don’t know the day or the hour Jesus will come again, he did tell us to be watchful and ready. We have a planner, too, with a liturgical calendar that cycles us through Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and then long swath of ordinary time each summer and early autumn. As we draw closer to the end of the liturgical year, the readings will focus more on the end of Jesus’ public ministry and, indeed, the end times. If I’m going to be ready, I’m going to need some coffee.