Light gray clouds muddled the sky and a lazy thunder grumbled passively in the distance.
For about two weeks of the year, rising summer desert air meets moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to produce vigorous thunderstorms and brilliant lightning displays that splinter electricity across the sky or crash it to the ground. It is a site to behold, and one of my all-time favorite Arizona experiences.
This was not one of those experiences. This was a mundane Monday under gloomy skies amidst the dragging reality of quarantine life. This thunderstorm was lazy. I could relate. The drab gray-white clouds and low thunder attempted in futile vain to become something more powerful and spectacular.
Sometimes in those first waking moments of the day, the virus seems like this invisible myth. Is it really there? Where is it exactly? I want to run and hug a friend and eat a fish taco in a restaurant with hordes of people around me. I want to spring out of bed and go about life as it should be. But alas. This quarantine life is real. I shall muster the energy to do this again. For another day. But just one day. One day at a time. That’s all the energy, mental and physical, I can muster at once.
Isolated in our homes, with uncertainty at every turn, it is easy to become disillusioned. So I choose to reflect on the truth I know: God’s goodness. I can’t even comprehend this virus as real, but God knows all things. Choosing to reflect on His word, I am re-energized for my day.
Praise the Lord!
How good to sing praises to our God!
How delightful and how fitting…
He heals the brokenhearted
And bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
And calls them all by name.
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Psalm 147:1, 3-5
This wonderment brings with it real power. Revitalized, I suit up for the day.
Fellow private Christian school leader, Dr. Tim Dernlan, shared some helpful insight this week that I found relevant to this quarantine struggle. At Habersham, we educate students not just for college or career, but for life. Our goal is to cultivate wisdom and virtue within our students. Thus, we often challenge parents and ourselves with the question: Who will your child become? Now, Tim challenges us with an equally difficult question: Who do you want to be?
One of the benefits of this at-home learning experience is how much we, as parents, get to engage with our children’s learning. In my years getting to know and interviewing prospective families, I often heard: I wish I was educated this way! In fact, at last night’s Patriot Parent Organization (PPO) Zoom gathering, chair Clay Hining reiterated this sentiment. We forget how worthy and valuable these great books and discussions are. Or, like me, you discover them for the first time as you read them with your children.
So it seemed fitting, since we are cultivating virtue in our children and students, and everyone is at home together now, that we spend some time reflecting on the ideas of virtue together. Dernlan selected seven particular virtues deserving focus during this time of seeming helplessness.
These aren’t meant to be overwhelming. We know Christ is our only hope. We can’t achieve such virtuousness as he did. But spending time reflecting and learning and growing can help us become who we want to be. (For the full study, you can download Dernlan’s free eBook here, adapted from his full book, The Classical Christian Virtues: Contemplating the Good Life.)
Aristotle represented virtue as the perfect balance between two vices – the middle ground so to speak. Here are seven relenant virtues (and vices) for our quarantine time:
Change or the process of change by which a person becomes better suited to a situation or environment. Vices: rigidness / doublemindedness
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. — Albert Einstein
A state of tranquility or peace; typically, free from agitation, excitement, or anxiety. Vices: anxiety / inactivity
“The true strength of a man is in calmness. — Leo Tolstoy
The ability to do something that is frightening or the strength to persevere in the face of grief, pain, or danger. Vices: cowardice / impulsiveness
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. — Winston Churchill
A strong feeling of appreciation for something or to someone for something done for you. Vices: Groveling / Churlishness
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. — Cicero
An inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome. Vices: Anxiety / Naivety
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. — Helen Keller
The ability to use your knowledge, belief, and experience to make good decisions, give good advice, or make right decisions. Vices: Ignorance / Disdain
When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs. — Thomas A Kempis
The ability to see the humor in a situation and use words in an intelligent and amusing way. Vices: Boorishness / Buffoonery
Wit, without wisdom, is salt without meat. — George Horne
We have a unique opportunity as families to live and learn together like never before. I have been uniquely encouraged this week by stories of success, fulfillment, and gratitude at Habersham homes. Our Habersham students are working hard. Our Habersham teachers are working hard. And parents, we know you are working hard! I am amazed, though not at all surprised, at how fluid and successful this at-home learning project has worked out to be. The teacher-parent partnership and quality of continued instruction is remarkable.
The woes of our time can seem too much on our own, but our strength comes from above. Adaptation. Calmness. Courage. Gratitude. Optimism. Wisdom. Wit. Cry out to Him and He will give you strength. Rest in the peace He grants you. Share the hope you have, especially with your children. Grow in Him. Live in the strength He grants you. We can do this. Not because we are strong and knowing, but because he is. One day at a time.
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