[Image Credit: Sword in the Stone Scene by navad108]
So, I’m already one post into this blog, and I’ve completely failed in my intention when it comes to “content delivery.” It’s a common misjudgement I make regarding creative projects – I want to be able to deliver and explore and create, and then end up discovering how little time and focus I have to actually pull the task off. However, the most recent cause of my “busy life, forgotten blog” ends up being an interesting place for me to start my explorations into practical faith, myth and heroism.
You see, in addition to all the other things my family and I are involved in, my wife Cassandra and I are foster parents. The road that we traveled to get here could not have been more different – my wife having found her true calling in caring for children (especially with physical challenges), I having been a foster brother to over 50 different kids since I was nine years old – but the destination ended up being the same. We give our time, our love, and a not-insignificant piece of our lives to little people in need of a long-term home. We tend to specialize in toddlers, since it’s our favorite age range and the challenges of that age group are straightforward in their resolution. In our first year at this task, five young humans have become in a small way a part of the Tucker North family.
To many folks that I speak with about this work, what we do is something special. I admit to often being confused when people tell me this – of how amazing my wife and I are, and how they admire anyone who can do this sort of work. For me, despite my protestations that I’d never walk this path as a shallow youth, foster care is just something that you do when you become an adult – you start your family, and when you’re ready to expand past the “home grown” stage of parenthood (no matter how many lives that leads to), you start caring for others in need. It’s a belief that happens to fit very tightly with the teachings our Catholic faith – when I talk about how foster care is just something my family does, it’s in response to passages such as the words of Saint whose name I share, the epistle of St. James and the life of St. Joseph. But despite all of this, I’ve come to find that I keep hearing the word “heroic” used in relation to the work we do.
Now, I’ve checked the definition of “heroic” in the dictionary, and what we do seems so commonplace to me that any comparison to the ancient epics makes me raise an eyebrow. But as I’ve introspected on the topic, the more I’ve realized that the concepts of heroism are deeply connected to the Catholic and Christian ideas of vocation. From the stories told of biblical kings and champions, to the people of modernity I have yet to find a single example of a human believing their vocation is extraordinary. Ask any priest you know, and ask them if they think themselves heroes for choosing to sacrifice their chance a traditional family and a traditional romantic experience in exchange for becoming a servant to God and to God’s people, and not one of them will say yes. Ask a parent you know if they consider themselves a hero for choosing to bring life into the world and raising that life from burbling baby to functional adult, and most will tell you that they only thing they are is exhausted.
In each case, this is simply the path they’ve been called to walk – through the gifts and talents they possess, the life experiences that lead them into who they have become today, and the destination they’re drawn to that selects this path of vocation. In each case they’ve found that what other people find heroic is common to them. The amazing is commonplace, the special simple.
This is not to say this “common heroism” that makes up these paths of vocation is easy – in fact, it is very often the case that the cross is heavier than it looked the first time you set out. I’ll admit that every time Cassandra calls me to tell me about a new potential placement, and we discuss the possibility that this small soul might join our family, I’m terrified. I have no idea how their life’s challenges with impact my life. I have no idea if I will be able to help them become the best person they can be while in our care. I don’t even know if I’m going to like the tyke. But I do know that the challenge set before me is to constantly leap, to constantly trust that there is something greater for which I will fall, and that somehow I will always land somewhere safe. That jumping will not lead me to a broken leg, but to a new and interesting adventure that will bring richness to my life and a little more hope to the world.
I suppose that makes what we do a little bit heroic, but what it tells me is that anyone within reading distance of this blog has a vocation that is just as heroic. There is something you do and love that brings light to the world, and terrifies other people. There is something that you think is a simple hike and other see as a impassible mountain range. Your challenge in life is to look for that common heroism, that thing that you’ve been made to do, and go do it. Go delve that proverbial dungeon, face that dragon (no matter how much it might scare you and others people) and search for the treasure that will fulfill your heart and soul – and find out that somehow, you’ve become a little closer to being a hero along the way.
Just like I’m going to become a little closer to a regular writer after this. How successful will I be? Damned if I know – but I suppose all I can do is jump.
Until next time!