Getting from yawn to, “yes, we can!” isn’t an impossibility. Neither does it require a master’s degree in astrophysics or child psychology.
The overcoming of lag in the school day requires prayer, creativity and effort. Overcoming lag begins by looking at what is possible. It utilises possibility in order to break through the feeling that this period of ‘’yawning’’ is an unnavigable barrier.
With a compass built of prayer, creativity and effort; that which is impossible can points us towards that which is possible. Prayer leads us in humility out from a navigational bearing that keeps us dangerously over focused on ourselves, and our situation.
That new bearing directs our learning. It helps lead us out of an unproductive quagmire.
The parent-teacher who is creative and teachable will have little trouble with this tactical manoeuvre. The only downsides are the side effects of having been slowly caught up in the lag themselves.
With this lag comes a muggy swamp like feeling that is as embracing as fog.
We can end up feeling like we’re part of the scene in Rocky IV, where Rocky Balboa reflecting on how to respond to the loss of Apollo Creed, is met by Robert Tepper singing in the background,
“…there’s no easy way out. There’s not short cut home.”
This may seem overly dramatic, but most teachers or Homeschool parents at some stage throughout the school year, would consider it a close analogy to how the lag-of-the-long-big-“yawn” can feel.
Teaching through this can also feel akin to the scene in The Neverending Story where Atreyu battles through the ‘Swamp of Sadness’. With The Nothing pursuing him, Atreyu loses his horse, Artax, and exhausted, almost gives up, tempted to succumb to the swamp himself.
Like Balboa’s prayer, renewed determination, effort and courage, that which was viewed as impossible once more becomes the possible. It may be that “…there’s no easy way out. There’s not short cut home,” but it doesn’t mean that getting from yawning, to “yes, we can!” is unachievable.
Like Atreyu, the brave who are aware of the swamp are ready to counter its effects. The compass of prayer, creativity and effort, along with the ability to discern the possible out of the impossible, finds a way through the fog.
Prayer should accompany creativity and effort because “to pray well is the better half of study”[i]
The act of prayer is an act of faith. Every sigh and every groan directed towards the ears of God lands on the heart of God.
As Friedrich Schleiermacher noted,
“Don’t listen to those who teach that, before you approach God, you must have your mind composed and your heart at peace; that it is unseemly to appear before Him in this agitated state, while the dread of pain and disappointment, the clinging to some good thing which you are on the point of losing, still tosses your heart to and fro, and leaves no room for submission to the Holy will of God. If you waited until submission had won the victory, you would feel neither the need nor the inclination for such a prayer, and the privilege of offering it would be useless to you […] such disquietude should not keep us back from God.[ii]
Paul in his own letter to the church in Rome made it clear that our sighs and groans aren’t wasted on God.
‘The [Holy] Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.’[iii]
In his famous letter to the Ephesians, when Paul calls on Christians with the metaphor, to put on the whole armour of God, he follows on with the instruction to also pray like breathing.[iv] Such is the importance of prayer in the conflict of everyday life.
We’re motivated towards Holy transformation, because the God who is Holy, graciously transforms our motivation.
When the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus, seeking proof of his divinity, Mark’s recount tells us that ‘Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit.’[v] This happened even after Jesus had multiplied bread and fish, to feed a large crowd.
These groans and deep sighs proclaim God’s permission to lean on Him. They proclaim God’s gracious move towards real humanity whereby humanity is empowered by God to learn from God. The acceptance of this life by the Spirit is the out working of His received grace. We have permission to believe; permission and strength to revolt against The Nothing; to walk through and rise above the fog.
Getting from “yawn” to, “yes, we can!” isn’t an impossibility. It might mean breaking routine. An earlier than planned library day or morning tea by the river.
It begins with out-of-the-box solutions grounded in the wisdom of God. It begins with creativity, effort and the ability to discern the possible even while being overshadowed by that which is viewed as impossible. It’s enabled by a counter-cultural determination to start with prayer and involve God in the decisions of the day.
It’s the existence of the possibilities unlocked by prayer, creativity and effort, that moves the schoolroom from “yawn”, to “yes, we can!”
This is practicing the art of dialectic. The hope produced by the existence of impossible possibilities. It is the homeschooler as Atreyu and Balboa. It is Paul writing from prison and it’s Schleiermacher refusing to surrender to the expectations of others.
‘The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your heads be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’
– (John 14:26-27)
[i] Commonly attributed to Martin Luther
[ii] Schleiemacher, F. The Power of Prayer in Relation to Outward Circumstances, Selected Sermons (p. 41).
[iii] Romans 8:26, ESV
[iv] Ephesians 6:18, ESV
[v] Mark 8:11, ESV