But what if things were just that simple? What if we insist on complicating things that really aren’t that complicated? What if this life was something where having a good horse, being able to tell right from wrong, and knowing where a man could find fresh water and how to handle yourself in a fight were among the most important things you could know, and you took everything else as it came? Is there such a story to tell anymore?
Van Gogh said something like this: “The highest form of art is fashioning human lives.” I’m not sure if that’s the exact quote, but it’s certainly true. You’re creating all the time — creating a mood, creating a meal, making a sick person comfortable, creating a celebration, nurturing compassion, creating a welcome — you’re always making. When our imaginations are captured by the idea of creating good stories in the lives of the people we’ve been given to love, a world of possibility opens up.
Nostalgia is not the new fad. Making things from scratch is not the new cool. Using your own elbow grease to scrub your baseboards the old-fashioned way is not just hip. It’s about living in a way that makes homes into places that care for the stranger and also the nearby friend. If in the process we rediscover the way they did things back then, it’s because no technology can ever replace what the time and trouble achieved. We will not stop hungering and thirsting for authenticity and presence.
What we believe about a child, and the person who that child is becoming, is significant. As Charlotte Mason says, "A child is a person." Children are not just babies becoming people, they are already people. In this way, we hold and relate to them with honor and respect. On one hand, we don't need to idolize them in preciousness. Nor do we need to belittle them for their weakness.
This reality is a great equalizer, and it makes me want to consider that honor even in the hope that the simple songs they sing and memorize should also be great songs.
I twisted around in my seat to watch our newborn daughter, cuddled with her blankets and sleeping through the ride. I wanted to say that it would all grow back. That I, too, would one day take a bluebonnet picture of my own daughter shaded by live oak trees. That the trees surely dropped seeds and those seeds would grow into seedlings, saplings, and young trees. But we passed in silence. The Loblolly pines would recuperate, but live oaks grow too slowly. Hundreds of years would have to pass. The land cannot return in time for my daughter.