The Learning of Their Fathers...
This thought really isn’t fully formed yet, so I hope it comes out alright. I’ve been working this morning on my proposal for the lesson plan initiative. Martin said he needed it to be “exhaustive,” like the terms of reference for a consulting project, complete with a vision statement, objectives, scope, deliverables etc…almost like a contract he could have all the stakeholders sign on to. Of course that naturally leads to a bit more big-picture thinking than tends to be helpful in such a project, but some of those big-picture thoughts have been interesting. At one point in my ponderings, the first verse of 1st Nephi came to mind. For those of you less familiar with the Book of Mormon, the first writer is a prophet called Nephi whose father, Lehi led their family out of Jerusalem just before the Babylonian conquest around 600 BC. His record opens with this statement; “I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.”
I, too, have been born of goodly parents who have taught me well. The same is true of the youth I am working with here. Many of them come from wonderful, loving, hard-working families. And they have been taught somewhat in all the learning of their fathers.
But, what happens when that’s not enough? For many of these kids, “the learning of their fathers” does not include anything about sanitation in food preparation or animal husbandry, or the environmental consequences of traditional practices like burning garbage, or how to budget funds, or work with a bank, or behave in a business meeting. For some of them, it doesn’t even include a written language. To survive [let alone thrive] in the world, this generation needs more than the learning of their fathers.
This thought was initially a bit discouraging. It seems a little unfair that “goodly parents” who teach a child all they can would not be enough. Then I realized that the same was true of Nephi. There came a time when he needed more than the learning of his father, more than the second-hand account, the vicarious experience. And, when he did, God sent an angel to teach him.
We all know I am no angel. Still, it was a comforting—and inspiring—thought. One I am grateful for.
Heavenly Father loves his children, and when the learning of their fathers isn’t enough—as perhaps it never really is, and isn’t supposed to be—he provides a way for them to learn what they need. For me, he opened a door to study at a great university [complete with dozens of experiences I could not otherwise have afforded], I have met individuals who have taught me both explicitly and by example, I have had opportunities to work, and to serve, in capacities that stretched me and helped me gain and practice new skills and develop my talents. And, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, I am taught “somewhat” [here a little and there a little] in all the learning of my Father.
For others, maybe he sends a child-less uncle who pays for the education of his 3 nieces, or a devoted widow who plays grandmother to a whole neighborhood, keeping dozens of kids off the streets and doubling the graduation rate for the local middle school. Maybe sometimes he sends cock-eyed optimists with big ideas about changing paradigms and creating movements…Maybe he’ll send me.