Homeschooling with the Light On

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve enjoyed wandering the house in the dark, testing myself to see if I can get around without a light, knowing where things are and sensing distances and obstacles. Unfortunately, on occasion, I’ve gotten carried away with the game.  I’ve listened to the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, and failed to turn the Light on in “real life,” trying to homeschool in the dark.

I remember the first time I really realized that “the light is always shining.” I’d lived in Seattle for a few years and had gotten used to the clouds. One day, after a particularly dark and overcast few weeks, I got on a plane to visit family. As the plane ascended above the clouds, I was shocked to find a brilliantly gleaming sun, and even more shocked to realize (yes, science eventually kicks in) that the sun was always there, always shining, whether I could see it or sense it, or not. I thought a lot then about clouds and likened them to troubles and temptations, drawing an analogy that God is always there, above whatever mortal cloud cover we find ourselves subject to.

Fast forward ten years. It’s been a dark, overcast spring. I’m not in Seattle anymore, but Utah, where it ought to be different. I’m struggling with scheduling, philosophy, discipline, curriculum, and faith. My kids are getting older much faster than I’d like and everything is changing. I’m groping around in what feels like infinite ominous shadows, trying to find the way for me, my family, and our homeschool. Instead of instinctively knowing where things are and giggling over a game well played in the dark, I’m bumping into everything, getting knocked around in the blackness and slipping into a pit of despair.

Frantically driving down the road in a hurry to one of many destinations, my 4-year-old daughter exclaims, “Mommy! Look! Look over there! Jesus is shining down!” I look in the direction she points, where rays of sunlight have burst through the clouds, beautifully illuminating a portion of the mountains in straight and narrow streaks, like slanted pillars of light. Weeks of darkness have made me somewhat cynical, but my daughter’s absolute faith and confidence in a Lord of Light and her innocent, yet emphatic declaration in no uncertain terms that He is both visible and available nearly make me hit the brakes. 

Over the stormy summer, my daughter makes numerous similar observations. I attempt to ponder it all in brief and sporadic intervals, in between bursts of running faster than I have strength. At an extended family camping trip threatened by rain and lightning, I feel overwhelmed, over-stimulated, over-socialized. I seek solace in a float tube in the middle of a lake, pretending to fish. Finally desperate, I begin to pray. Against the mountains, rays of light suddenly penetrate the cloud cover. The words, “pillar of light” enter my mind and I am flooded with warmth and revelation. I think of my daughter, marveling at her ability to see light for what it is at her age. I recall phrases in scripture and references to light in both the sacred and the secular. I remember that things that are “bad” are often referred to as “dark;” the Dark Side, dark magic, etc. I recognize that even the smallest flashlight will dispel the deepest of darkness, making safe the way, if only it’s turned on. Light always disperses dark. I come to truly understand that just as our sun anchors our Solar System, constant regardless of where Earth is in rotation and orbit, The Light of our Lord is unchangeable, perpetually faithful and independent of clouds and darkness—however self-imposed. It merely takes operation of “the switch,” through prayer. I humbly realize the dusky haze of my stormy spring and summer was of my making, the loss of power the result of my own inner natural disaster and failure to turn on the light. And I am ever so thankful for the weather patterns that made it possible for my daughter, and me, to see “Jesus shining down on us.”

How did I, someone who has always partnered with the Lord in homeschooling, get to the point of going it for a while in the dark? That’s a question for another day, but partly answered here. How has He, in His infinite wisdom and generosity, warmed and illuminated our homeschool? That’s a question that would take gigabytes to answer; they’re many and varied, marvelous and miraculous.  Some are too special to share.  This would be a good month for all of us to make a grateful record. How has He lighted your homeschool? Children are fascinated with the consequences of light switches.  On, off, on, off, on, off, on. The availability of electricity and light is so taken for granted, as well as the ability to direct it, that perhaps we sometimes become indifferent with the ultimate Source of Light as well. We’d never think of looking for an outhouse in the woods in the deep of night, or exploring a dark, dank cave without a light source.  But in complacency we might try it in more familiar surroundings. Save yourself the experiment. Get yourself a spiritual generator. Make sure you homeschool with the Light on.