"There is pedagogy in our practice.
A fancy way of saying, we teach by example, we learn by watching the behavior of others. How we are is what we pass on. To our children, to a whole host of people, strangers and neighbors, family and friends.
Mother's Day. My first without having either of the girls at home. But they're here. They are here in heart and spirit, in laughter and looniness. I will know their presence. And it will be good.
I just made the mistake of reading the bishops's reflection in The Lutheran. "There is pedagogy in our practice." He is right. We've known this for years, those of us who read John Westerhoff, Fran Anderson, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer with our mother's milk. But it really struck me, reading this article.
Our daughters', Dave's and mine, did indeed learn from the behavior of others. There was pedagogy in their practice. When Annika was barely in 3rd grade, and Kaia in 7th, the girls began to learn about the life and witness of the church. And from this bishop's example they learned more than they could take in, more than they could believe and process of the duplicity, deceit, betrayal and indifference of the church. They learned about the power of evil to twist hearts and minds. They learned by watching this bishop and others around him of the faithless and ungracious behavior that tore down, broke apart, ruined communities and individuals. Pedagogy in their practice, all right.
"There is pedagogy in our practice." The girls saw and learned during those few years how NOT to be, how NOT to behave, how NOT to think about God and Jesus and church community, and how NOT to worship. They learned about hypocrisy and hardheartedness. They learned about faithlessness most of all. They too were used, manipulated, hurt, and betrayed. Lied to, mistreated, and broken. There was indeed pedagogy in the bishop's meanspirited practice and they learned so much about the dark side of the life and witness of the church that we despaired of their ever finding any use for it again. And even of their knowing a life of faith.
However, there is pedagogy in our practice too. HA! On this Mother's Day I am over the moon about my girls. Because of the pedagogy we practiced, the behavior and example of saints and strangers, neighbors, friends, and family, these two young adult women are gracious and generous of spirit. They are tender of heart. They are loving and compassionate, longsuffering, wise, honest, and have the will and intention to live lives of service.
It could have been different. I just need to say that. They could have learned and grown up to be bitter and indifferent, to be reclusive and rebellious. They could have grown up feeling angry and lacking in charity, kindness, and grace. But they didn't! Not even close.
"How we are, together, is a witness to what we believe to be the core of our life and faith," writes the bishop. So true. Pathetic witness, that.
But thanks to the pedagogy of our practice, and yours, my friends, our daughters saw an alternative vision to the one that surrounded them.
They have learned to be forgiving and merciful. They have learned to be honest and patient and true. They have become strong, bold examples of what the Creator intends for all of us, to live authentically, with integrity, and lovingkindness. They know about reverence, largesse, faithfulness and service. And they've even learned about vitality from two parents who were often weary and distressed. They learned that from you.
And of course, they learned to laugh. There was no getting around that. They learned that looniness is next to godliness and humility involves regular laughter at one's own (or anyway, mom's) expense. They have learned from us. By God, they have learned from us. Holy shit, can you believe it! They have learned from us! And from you. And you, and you, and all the you's out there that won't be reading this blog. Friends, family, teachers, roommates, those they admire from afar and those they have watched up close. Because, "how we are together is a witness" to life itself and how best to engage it.
And all this in spite of having a wounded healer for a mother, a woman who is herself unserious enough to have a magnet on the refrigerator that says,
"Somebody has to set the bad example."
Oh yeah, we're good. Even when we're good at being 'bad.'
Oh yeah, I am SO celebrating Mother's Day this year.
Thank you, Kaia, thank you, Annika. You are the best!