I'm sitting in a cafe. The table is piled with my children's school books. I had been working on school lessons, but my heart's steady beat of write-write-write won't be ignored.
I plop my little ipad, its attached keyboard making it look like a miniature laptop, on top of my son's open planner.
The song of the cafe is loud. I sit and stare at the screen, ready to burst. Nothing comes.
My ears are so full they ache.
Still the cafe-song pulses. Medical terms sing out from the nurses-in-training studying at a nearby, book laden table. The blender whirs its tune of frozen caffeine and sugar. The speakers blare pop music, jarring, much of the tunes and lyrics meaningless. Some of it despairing.
With a deep breath I plug in my headphones.
Higher and higher I press the volume button, until I am alone in a song of hope. I close my eyes as peace washes over me.
It's not just the cafe. Distractions swirl around me all the time. Everywhere I go they are fighting for my attention.
How desperately I want the laser-like focus that is required to walk the narrow path in our loud culture.
I think about how like a magpie I am all day, every day. So many things on the to-do list, so many shiny electronic distractions. I scurry around from task to task as if speed will keep me from forgetting anything. Then inevitably I wear down and sit to stare at a screen for a minute. I use it almost like a pacifier, a retreat. Is this where I really want to find rest?
I think about the example this sets for my children.
I can't escape the culture. None of us can.
The culture-at-large is not a culture of peace. Our culture is not singing a song of hope. Our culture's theme song is "Me, Myself and I in Our Virtual Life."
Moving to the country does not protect you from this culture, in case you were wondering.
And you know, I don't want to be protected from the culture, frankly. It is our world, our mission field. Filled with hurting and hungry souls desperate for the love that does not disappoint.
But the din, oh so loud. So distracting.
Sally Clarkson encourages parents to develop a family culture. In a way that reminds me of Charlotte Mason's idea that education is an environment, the Clarkson parents strove to surround their children with beauty and great thinkers, with a family culture of unconditional love and acceptance.
My desire for our family is to create a home culture of peace and quiet of soul. A safe place, a nest to which we can return from the clamor of our culture. A place where beauty and truth prevail. Where we are nourished in heart, and soul-fed to return to the sweaty work of loving in this dark world.
We must be in our culture but not of it. And oh how hard to draw the line.
We can not isolate ourselves and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. He who came to this ugly hard world and spent his days amongst the most dirty in body and soul, who loved the unlovable, who served without hesitation.
It is only fear that would keep the door closed.
Love opens the door.
There is no rule book for this, no manual for how children serve in an unlovely world. For my husband and me, it is a matter of prayer and the individual child. What can they handle? But if we are to live in this world, and walk out the command to love... and if we believe that love is action and serving... we must must walk out into it.
Sally Clarkson sometimes quotes the old Chinese proverb, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." I feel that truth in my bones.
|...each of us in our own little alcove, shining bright, pushing back the darkness...|
Jesus lit a candle. He lit one in you and one in me when we became His.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." - Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16)
We get to do this. Shine light into the darkness. Hope. Meet real needs. Even in our own weakness and neediness. Because we do it in Him, for Him.
Imagine. Worn out mamas like you and me, we are lights.
I want to let my light shine into the darkness around me instead of complaining about it. I want to nurture a family culture of peace and love so that when we feel overwhelmed by the culture-at-large, we have a safe haven.
A place of protection from the winds that want so badly to blow out our little flames.
And then I want to go back out and shine.
cafe photo by naggobot
candle/alcove photo by Dave W Clark
Mighty to Save sung by Laura Story