Guardians of our heritage

I just picked up the new biography on Bonhoeffer, hoping to read it as I go to New Mexico for Thanksgiving. I sat down at Barnes and Noble with my coffee and thought I would get through the first couple chapters.

I didn’t make it past the quotation that begins chapter 1.

“The rich world of his ancestors set the standards for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s own life. It gave him a certainty of judgment and manner that cannot be acquired in a single generation. He grew up in a family that believed the essence of learning lay not in a formal education but in the deeply rooted obligation to be guardians of a great historical heritage and intellectual tradition.” Eberhard Bethge

This resonated so deeply with me. I’ve been a little frustrated with education with the boys, and although they are in a great little Christian school where they are cared for and taught, there is a depth missing and haven’t been able to put my finger on. It is nothing against the school…this is it. To approach education not as an obligation to whiz through the elementary learning and find what we like so we can be somewhat happy in a career…but to approach learning as an obligation to our heritage.

Bonhoeffer had some pretty great heritage, apparently.

Well. So do we.  In our family, our youngest boy Samuel takes his middle name Howard from his great-great grandfather, Howard Beacham. He was a lawman and judge and prohibitionist in New Mexico. He was a larger-than-life personality. I’ve grown up with the stories. We are also somehow related to William the Conqueror and Sir Francis Bacon. Yep.

My father’s family came from Switzerland. They were hard working and smart. And fun. Barn dances and flying planes, skating on frozen ponds.


So do you, I bet. The grandfather who fought in the WWII. The uncle who loved history and can tell you about the intricacies of your lineage. The great-great-grandfather who changed the course of your family.

It’s more than that, though. I was so struck by this approach to learning as being an obligation to our heritage, and that means our spiritual heritage.

That means Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

That means J.I. Packer.

That means Madeleine L’Engle.

That means C.S. Lewis and Spurgeon and Luther and Calvin.

That means knowing about grand people who lived deeply and thought deeply and invested. Not wasting that investment.

So, we are thinking seriously of homeschooling this coming year, mainly because it is becoming more and more difficult to pay for three kids in a private school. I’m starting to feel those stirrings, though, of something deeper to this homeschooling. Something to do with being a guardian of an investment, a guardian of a heritage.

Knowing who we are and why we are.  Knowing more than the abc’s and math.

Knowing our stories.  Back to stories….back to dinner tables and conversations and being aware.

I’ll be listening maybe a little more closely to the conversations around the table tomorrow, because I’m sure there will be a few stories shared.  Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. Look around you while you are in the midst of your world. What investment has been made that you can become a guardian of your heritage?


2 thoughts on “Guardians of our heritage

  1. asiasea says:

    you are so very well read…and i do believe it is very important to connect our children with the tapestry of their heritage. With a decision to homeschool, please also ‘budget’ a minimum of two days a week for your children in daycare for oh, ten hours or so… 🙂 your time, to continue your growth, reading and please blogging.


  2. sarahkwolfe says:

    Thanks, Na’amah….so happy to see your name here!

    I have thought about needing time to myself (that actually will be my next article). This will be a big transition if we do homeschool…although I do know I’ll have the boys go to an enrichment supplement once a week. I know that I need some down time to stay sane.

    Thanks again for reading!!


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