Notes from Jan

On the Eve of Instruction

January 19, 2021

Our nervous nation paces tonight. So much hangs on a fragile commitment to the peaceful transfer of power. In the 2000 election we dangled while Florida, and then the Supreme Court dealt with hanging chads and the outcome of a very close race. But after the ruling, the loser acknowledged the winner. Some fumed, others dealt with disappointment or celebrated but mostly our nation exhaled. And our Democracy passed another test.

Today some speak of hanging people as one way of dealing with those who differ and threaten their way of life. Some even built a gallows outside our Capitol. The world watched our government under siege. Through television and social media, we witnessed an enraged mob, some carried a cross, and bibles to support misguided views of what matters to God. Most were fueled by hate, white supremacy causes and a desire to follow their President’s mandate.

And a stunned nation and world watched as fellow Americans wrote history with living graffiti as they scaled walls, smashed windows, used flags like weapons, while chanting U.S.A.. In the process, they damaged something more valuable than the Capitol building.

So what have we learned and what’s ahead on this eve of an inauguration like no other? We are, for sure, on the eve of instruction, if we’re teachable. Tomorrow and in the weeks ahead government and citizens head back to Life’s School. We can expect reminders of dress and conduct codes, as well as talking less and listening more. I anticipate home work, tough assignments, small group work and no recess for awhile. And we older “kids”should be examples for younger “kids.”

Still, as challenging as this sounds, as a kid I looked forward to going back to school. It offered a fresh start, different teachers, a chance to make new friends and better choices, to grow up. A new year signaled hope around the corner.

Tonight I listened to Lori, a nurse from St. Joe’s hospital in Michigan and I felt hope. She sang by the reflecting pool on the National Mall. Four hundred lights, lined both sides to represent 400,000 people who died from Covid-19. Lori is black, a reminder of how unfairly Covid hit the black communities. One day last April, nurse Lori spontaneously sang, Amazing Grace to her weary co-workers and struggling patients. Tonight she sang for a weary, struggling nation.

As I listened I thought, there’s not a one of us that hasn’t been blind to someone or some thing. Nor any who haven’t felt lost at one time or another. We’ve been through a lot and it’s not over. We will need grit and grace to stay in school and do our homework. The curriculum is tough: Advanced classes in accountability, language, economics, justice, civil discourse, history, truth-telling, race and reconciliation. No fluff.

Still, we must care and hope. Why? So much is possible when we simply show up, ready to learn, willing to share our lunch, a listening ear, a kind word.

We do what we can and trust God to be at work in and through us, somehow. Amazing. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)

And we’re going to need it.

School starts tomorrow.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Lisa Penta January 19, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you, dear Lisa, for your heart felt expression. So much comes down to matters of the heart.

  • Reply Jennie-Rebecca January 20, 2021 at 6:20 am

    Dearest Jan,

    You are always on point but this one especially so. Love to you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      And I love you, very dear Jennie Rebecca. You, as a professor of English, appreciate words so yours matter extra to me.

  • Reply Maggie Rowe January 20, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Jan, once again you are expressing the cries of my heart as well. I so appreciate your writing. I often forward your posts to my favorite pastor (hint: initials AWR), and I believe he has subscribed to get them now as well. You are mentoring and encouraging many of us through your words.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2021 at 4:12 pm

      Well, very dear Maggie, I find writing helps me know what I think, which hopefully is informed by my heart, faith. and prayers before, during and after I write.

  • Reply Laura FG January 20, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Jan
    You are His servant and a great teacher to all of us! Your message is A plus plus on first day if school!
    ❤️

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 20, 2021 at 4:14 pm

      Well,my dear Laura, it’s been a full day of school. My ears, mind, heart and notebook are full. Now, to do the home work. Thanks for encouraging this older student.

  • Reply Jennifer Dickinson January 23, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Wonderful blog! I hope we are all ready for school! Happy New Year to you and the family.
    Love,
    Niffy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 23, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Thank you, dear Niffy. I wish you and your family the JOY of a New Year, and fresh beginnings. Loved your family card. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Wendy January 24, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Such good thoughts as always Jan. It turned out to be beautiful, didn’t it? And how about that Amanda Gorman?! <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg January 25, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      Amanda was and is a bright light, for sure. It was a good day for many in our country and around the world. But we have much home work to do to “be the light” Christ called us to be and Amanda reminded us.

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