If there’s anything I’ve learned in homeschooling, it’s to acknowledge when you’re out of your league with a question you can’t answer. You know, those impossibly formidable and menacing quandaries like, “How are you today?”
Shall I end my family update there or take my stab at a response: “Compared to what?”
Let me try again: We have toilet paper (and now, thanks to the scare, a bidet). We have food on our table and healthy little critters defiling it. And we do enjoy many a sweet moment when we can maintain the humor to see them.
Speaking of seeing, I will admit to not embracing the irony of my good vision waving farewell in 2020, along with my 30s and the relative stability of our world. Everything used to be so clear…
In a school year oriented heavily around classic literature, the kids and I got a kick out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which provided some comic relief after Hamlet. Snorting babies turning into pigs and a Mock Turtle schooled in Reeling and Writhing, Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision? It’s amusing! But in the end, who was there but that pesky question of what in the world is certain… Had we not seen the last of Hamlet after all?
Now granted, I’m only a 5th grader, but (homeschooling or not) the pressure can feel immense to send kids into adulthood with all the proper certainties: a life that is employable, enjoyable, and free of any cultural, political, and spiritual ambivalence.
As Moderns, we’ve been taught to cling to the Certainty of New Things which will surely solve our outdated human struggles. As Christians, we read this as untrue, so we tend toward those clinging to the Certainty of Old Things. Meanwhile, the two camps berate each other with authoritative staunchness while I scramble just to plan tonight’s dinner. Must I pick sides and answer the questions to remain faithful? Which ones?
The book of Hosea has long been a meaningful place for me to ruminate during upended seasons; chapter 6 verse 3 is my shorthand for the reward of pursuing the LORD:
3Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.
But this time around, it’s verse 4 that’s gotten me:
4What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah?
our love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.
What is certain in my interaction with the Lord? Is it my faithful pursuit? Surely not. I am the dew. Have I been placing my faith in the certainty of the LORD? Or in some quality of my own faith?
Unlike Alice and Hamlet, the folks of Wonderland seem endowed with excessive certainty, as do the Pharisees in John chapter 9. Yet the account ends with Jesus’ indictment, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now that you maintain, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” As believers, we of all people can be free to wrestle with life’s uncertainties, since Jesus our Anchor holds within the veil. Yet, it’s easy to default to fear of what might come untethered from our “control.”
All this to say, how is our family? We’re fine. We’re weary. We’re learning. We’re quiet. Like everyone, we’re plugging away, trying to stay next to people. We’re not sure how most things are going to play out, but we’re sure goodness and mercy will follow us all the days, and we certainly love hearing from you!
Grace & Peace,