We have great discussions in my household. The best ones begin with questions or statements from my kids that spark a sort of knowledge quest.
"Dad, do you think unicorns were real?" I stall my answer as I try to measure the nature of her question. "Unicorns? What leads you to ask me about unicorns?" She says, "Well, the Bible talks about them." Her brother says, "Only in the King James."
The next twenty minutes were a race through the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), comparisons of translations, glimpses into Hebrew transliterations, and a discussion of both two horn and single horn rhinoceroses.
Ultimately, the conversation ended with a declaration that unicorns did in fact exist as horseys with a sparkly, twisty horn, but pegasus did not exist because it is ridiculous to have a horse with wings.
I suppose I'm willing to agree. I kind of like the idea of a fierce horse that can defend itself with a horn. I think though, even at a deeper level I'm just drawn to the concept of belief. I remember the excitement of belief that I had as a child when I encountered stories of dragons, space, and adventure.
Life these past few months has had its moments of disbelief. Long bleak days accompany the southwestern Ohio fall as the warm days seem to be consumed by a winnowing force. There have been moments when I've mourned the things left behind. The relationships that were held tight through daily proximity now seem artificial through the sterile environment of internet communication.
Questions can turn inward in those quiet moments and the scrutiny of others can take on fears of mythological size. Making dramatic change in life always involves risk. Even when a risk is measured, the tick, tick, tick of the days can be maddening when viewed as inaction. While our days have been filled with activity, society demands neat answers.
I've been masterful at making ends meet for a time, and yet this artful ability to blend into the needs of the moment... at times just feels charlatan. While substitute teaching these past few days, I've been offered two long term positions that I'm not qualified to have. I chuckle to see that I've convinced others that I'm a qualified teacher, but also admit to days when I silently wondered if I was capable of anything.
Sometimes it is good to remember the power of belief. My daughter says that unicorns exist and I'm not ready to shoot down her wonder. Maybe they do. Maybe this is where you stop reading? Maybe you'll miss the unicorn.
It is time to believe. Joshua kept walking on day six. David kept walking as the giant loomed near. Daniel kept walking as the lions roared below. Paul kept walking even when his eyes were blinded. Jesus kept walking even after Gethsemane.
When I chose to open my eyes and see the grace that is offered when I follow my God, then what was a threat becomes nothing more than a great chance to discover Him more through the challenging terrains of life. This holiday season our family gives thanks. We are aware that we are where we are because we have chosen to be faithful.
I think there is no better place to be.
There is more to life than we can perceive at any given moment or perspective. The past stretches before us as we contemplate its effect on today. With our eyes on the past, we walk backwards into the future, trusting that our feet will continue to fall in alignment with the past that has brought us to this present.
While we cannot see what lies ahead, we are sure of our place because of where we have been. "Dad, do you think unicorns are real?"
I think it matters that I continue to expect them to be.