Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sojourning in the Promised Land

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
--Hebrews 11:8-10
On Saturday night we returned from a sojourn to Texas. Many generous friends opened their homes to us, whether for a meal or for the night. The architecture of modern Texas developments is removed from our aged manse in Ohio -- for example, everyone's shower had pressure, and no one had a hole in their bathroom ceiling. And yet we were glad to get back to the cracked plaster and the woody smell of the auld pile. Our home, where we plan our projects and raise our family. Where we're settled. Ours.

And then Sunday's reading presented me with Abraham, who "sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country". Even in the land God had promised him, Abraham didn't live as if he had total control. He didn't try to reshape it according to his own desires and schemes. He didn't take the land by force. Indeed, the only part of it he ever owned was the small parcel where he buried Sarah.

On the trek back northward, Darwin and I talked through the long stretches, discussing our plans for this coming year and what work we wanted to do on the house. That's legitimate; it falls to the heads of the family to make plans and try to stave off entropy. These plans, however, are all contingent on everything going just right: job, money, family stability, health. We think we're able to manage all the various streams of our existence, but we're really just sojourning in the land we've been promised. We don't own anything that really matters. Our children, ourselves, even our house -- we're merely custodians of these things for a time. There are better and worse ways of being custodians, and we hope we've chosen the better part, but in the end everything must handed over to someone else.

This weekend is my annual Homeschooling Mothers' Retreat, held at a fine old retreat center built in the best tradition of 30s religious institutional style. Everything there focuses the mind toward what is good and eternal. But there will be a gaping hole this year. One of our local mothers, a gracious woman with seven children, died on Sunday from breast cancer. Her presence will be missed, as will be the presence of many others who will be attending her funeral on Saturday. The beautiful style of the retreat house can't compensate for the absence of each individual. Place is important, but it is the people who matter.

Of your kindness, please pray for the soul of Becky, and for her grieving family, and for the community which is rent by her loss.


Brandon said...

It does seem, despite the constant temptation to focus on the here-and-now, that "looking forward" to what is not yet, what you yourself can't even guarantee, is a big part of living well; we have all been called out, not knowing where we are to go.

Jamie said...

I will be sure to pray for Becky.

Banshee said...

"They enter into the palace of the king."

Praying. St. Zelie, pray for us!