John Clark, himself a voyager to new lands has thoughtful insight and practical perspective for fellow travelers newly arrived in the land of homeschooling.
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
These are reportedly the words of Christopher Columbus, but whether he actually uttered them is of little import; these words define his experience as he ventured to the “New World.”
There is a lesson in these words for all of us, although we often resist that lesson.
There’s something comforting about the shore. The shore is safe, familiar, and constant. It’s what you’ve known and seen your whole life. Sure, better things might lie beyond that sand and surf, but since you can’t see what lies ahead— and since you lose sight of the shore on your way—it’s…well…scary.
Of course, “the shore” is not meant literally; rather, it is a metaphor for various areas of our lives. For some, the shore is the town they grew up in. For others, it is a job or profession. For still others, the shore is a particular school their children attend.
Whatever your shore might be, it is wise to sometimes consider that better lands and better opportunities might lie beyond.
I know, that’s not easy. And I can tell you that firsthand.
Insofar as few of us really enjoy change, I would guess that I like change far less than most others. I’m the kind of person who drinks the same coffee for breakfast every morning (half-shot vanilla latte with grass-fed cow’s milk) and—despite the laments of my children—watches the same shows (Rockford Files, Magnum, P.I., and Columbo) every night. After all, why take a chance on a new coffee drink or a new show?
So it surprised my friends when our family recently announced our intention to move from Virginia to Florida. And truth be told, I second-guessed myself for weeks before we left the town that my children and I had grown up in. As we pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street, my rear-view mirror lost sight of my house—my shore. Neither could I yet see what was ahead.
And that can be the most difficult part of the journey—the transition from old to new.
I was on a voyage of uncertainty.
Maybe that’s how Columbus felt.
But in my travels, I also thought about the constants that accompanied me in my voyage—my wife and children, my Catholic Faith, the hope and love and grace of God. Jesus has promised us His ocean of mercy, which is everlasting and more important than any shore on which we find ourselves. I wonder if Columbus also thought about that.
Many of you reading this have just begun a journey toward homeschooling. Very likely, you intrepid souls are still feeling a sense of trepidation as your children have left the schools they may have attended for years. That’s an understandable response.
Finding Your Co-Pilot
But, when you encounter that pit-of-your-stomach “Oh my goodness! What have I done?” sensation, look for the constants that I looked for: faith, hope, and love. Because in the final analysis, Christ is our navigator, and He is directing us to a place of perpetual happiness.
Don’t look at the waves.
Don’t look at the shore.
Look at the beautiful and consoling eyes of Jesus.
And never stop looking.
Wherever we go, that is the answer.
And as you make this transition, let me assure you that life in the homeschooling world can be truly wonderful. Space will not allow me to go into much detail here, but (with apologies for the shameless self-promotion), I would direct you new homeschool families to two books I have written about my family that highlight the fulfillment and joys of the homeschool life. (Who’s Got You: Observations of a Catholic
Homeschooling Father and How To Be A Superman Dad In A Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford A Decent Cape, both available from Seton Educational Media). Both books have very short chapters that I hope to provide a quick reminder of the reason for your journey, as well as a laugh or two.
And to those of you voyagers who have just arrived in the land of homeschooling, please accept my humble greeting: Welcome to the New World.