Last night I was feeling discouraged as a teacher and a parent, which usually means I need to direct my thinking to something good and true. So I checked to see what audio lectures were streaming on the CiRCE page. I was excited to find the first lecture from the Further Up & Further In – An Exploration of the Classical Quadrivium event. I began to listen to it and took in what I heard. Andrew was discussing the mathematical arts. He told a story from his youth about an experience in Math class that illustrates the sad and stark reality that we are all walking around with dimmed eyes, not able to see, but the hopeful reality that we all, in our hearts, want to see. He went on to describe a conversation between Socrates and an up and coming Athenian about why he was not pursuing these arts more fervently. The essence of it was fear of what others would think and fear of not getting what one needs. Andrew continued by speaking on how pursing the mathematical arts within the Christian classical tradition is a way to help us to see reality, but more importantly a way to help us see the one thing worth seeing, our savior Jesus Christ. This encouraged me because I’m reminded of the hope I have; it also discouraged me because I realized how much I fail to provide this for my children.
When I woke up this morning, I read in Isaiah 1 and was caught off guard to find some striking similarities between the thoughts in the lecture and the tensions I was wrestling with personally. Here is what I read and learned
“Listen O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the Lord speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:2-3
We have a need, a severe and serious need. The Lord has called us by name and has chosen us. We were made to know Him. We were made to hear Him. Yet we are worse than the animals when it comes to hearing and attending to our master’s voice. The eyes of our souls are dimmed.
“Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evil doers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the Lord,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.” Isaiah 1:4
Our dimmed eyes have led us to be weighed down with the cares of this world, worried and afraid of things that do not bring life. The more we continue in this, the more it multiplies, and the further away from Life we go.
“Where will you be stricken again,
As you continue in your rebellion?
The whole head is sick
And the whole heart is faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head
There is nothing sound in it,
Only bruises, welts, and raw wounds,
Not pressured out or bandaged,
Not softened with oil.” Isaiah 1:5-6
My dimmed eyes have infected my whole being and continue to cause me to abuse my own soul. My entire being needs healing, my soul, my spirit, and my body needs the ointment of the Lord. My dimmed eyes have turned out to be a sickness, and there is nothing sound in me as long as I look through these eyes. As long as I resist what must be done for healing, my wounds will continue to weep.
“Your land is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire,
Your fields –strangers are devouring them in your presence;
It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers.
The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard,
Like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
Unless the Lord of hosts
Had left us a few survivors,
We would be like Sodom,
We would be like Gomorrah.” Isaiah 7-9
Not only has my dimmed eyes affected by own being but it has ravished the land as well. The land is in utter destruction, and I have let it happened. Others have come onto my property, and I have let them ravish it. How can this be? What can be done? I should be completely destroyed, but I am not. Why have you allowed me to live in the face of all of this?
Then, I turned my eyes to the Lord and saw.
I was never created to walk around with dimmed eyes. The wounds, the desolations, the ravished land are not what I was made for. They are not what my children were made for.
There is only one thing that is needful, to hear the Master’s voice. Everything else rests on that. I need healing, and only the soothing oil of my Master’s voice can heal me. I need it so desperately that all of my life I ought to pursue Him and His Truth. Every endeavor needs to be about learning to see with clear eyes.
There is hope because we are not like Sodom and Gomorrah; we are like Israel. Yes, we are rebellious and broken, but not destroyed. We can still turn our gaze. The more I attend to the Word, Creation, and the Liberal Arts, with Jesus at the center of it all, the clearer I see. It is true that Jesus Christ is the only one who can save and in pursuit of this He has given us a tremendous grace. Our God created the world in such a way that even the rocks cry out, and heavens are telling of the glory of God. The truth may be known, and we can discover it in many endeavors. Just think, even the education of our children can be taken captive to help us seek the One, who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
Why don’t more of us seize this opportunity? I think it is what Andrew talked about in the Lecture from ‘Further Up & Further In’ event. We are afraid of what others will think, we are worried and concerned with the cares of this world, and we don’t believe Matthew 7 when it says all these things will be added unto us if we would only seek first the kingdom of God.
We have a choice. Will we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, have faith? Will we choose to participate in the reality that if we seek first the Kingdom of God all that we need on this side of eternity will be added unto us? Or will we continue on as the Israelites in their rebellion, refusing to hear the master’s voice? It is time to heal. It is time to heal the land. It is time to heal our eyes.
The question then is “How do I seek first the Kingdom of God in each moment?” I cannot speak for all moments, but I am convinced the best way to seek first the Kingdom of God in the education of my children is through the Christian Classical tradition of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences. In this, we are sure to find a rich ointment from “springs too deep for taint.” (David Hicks p 14)