News travels fast, even to the ends of the earth where we live. It’s not usually accurate or reliable and sometimes it takes a solid 24 hours (a whole day!) for the true truth to be told, but it reaches us out here.
When my daughter called me on October 1 of last year to tell me what was happening on campus, it took hours to locate her friends and account for all the kids we knew. Hours. And we were impatient with grief and worry and wonder. This was happening to us, and it was unreal, and the news was about us. We had to learn so much from the internet and television.
We were at a home group a couple months ago, the one we affectionately dub “The Fogies”, and they were telling stories about the first houses in the valley to get electricity and the first family to own a television, which blows my mind and makes me want to listen more. That generation has seen more change in their lifetime than any before it, and what they remind me is that I need to notice the change, pay attention, watch. Everything is changing before our eyes.
Our home was one of the last in the valley to get fiber internet, I’ll tell the youngsters some day.
Researchers say that knowledge will soon be doubling every 12 hours. Nothing is out of bounds, they say; reach the heavens and plumb the depths, because human potential is unlimited and my! what wonders we could accomplish around human ingenuity and unity.
They babble on about potential and completely forget what we’ve already learned.
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:4
The boys in my yard, the ones tossing a football and spouting NFL stats and predictions for next season, don’t know about the doubling of knowledge. They don’t labor for facts as they collect their football cards and watch the games, replaying the highlights in our yard. They learn for fun and I accidentally learn the names of the running backs and the draft picks but then, because I don’t really care about the NFL much, promptly forget.
I care about those boys though, and I want to know what they care about. I get a vicarious knowledge that might allow me to engage them on the surface but I don’t have any real knowledge of football. My ignorance doesn’t stop me from the enjoyment of watching them play, whether in my backyard or in their uniforms on a real football field. I learn their numbers and positions and all their football dreams.
The boys congregate here so often that we mowed out extra space in our field. We had marked the boundaries and put in the corner fence posts and then decided, like we do, that the boundaries of our proposed yard were too tight. There are 8 boys at this end-of-the-earth dead end road, and when you add in cousins and extra friends and a few dogs, no tiny yard, easy to mow and manage, will do.
They don’t yet care that they can get more knowledge and information by the hour than someone a hundred years ago may have had access to in a lifetime. They just want more room for their games and we have the power to give it to them.
When all the news and every bit of information forcing its way in (through portals we willingly open) is just too much too fast, we can shut it all down and sit out back, watching the boys toss the ball. We can pause the internet and start up the BLM road, running the mountains and watching the fog roll in.
We pull back the borders and make it a small, small world again.
I know the sun rises every day on a world that denies its Creator, that denies what it already clearly can know and pines instead for something new. Always something new.
But out here in these fields and mountains, all defenses are down and we are susceptible to the blissful ignorance, susceptible even to not knowing the news as it happens because life is already happening at record speed around us.
The hay will be cut soon and the bales will need bucked; the dahlias have started their bloom and every day bouquets will be waiting; fish are biting; the camping gear needs tuned up; the lake is calling.
We pull our borders up and live our own heartbroken story, bitter with news from the prayer chain at church or a phone call from family. We make our own small world better with words and actions, true prayers.
We know what’s happening around the world. It’s happening here, too. We welcome strangers but don’t forget our neighbors.
We pray for others to have peace in their own boundaries and the place of their dwelling, but when it’s all too much, we turn off the news and live the current of events right here, because home is a salve for the world.