It was the last day of a two week holiday up into northern Queensland. The kids were really amazing, considering how many hours we’d spent in the car. We just had to get out of the Blue Mountains and back south. Of course, the road out of the mountains was inevitably windy, whichever way you went, and our daughter (aged seven at the time) quickly became queasy. We stopped a number of times for her to gulp fresh air or vomit… whichever was needed. Finally the worst was over and we were coasting along at a good pace through pleasantly green and fertile looking paddocks with patches of bush here and there. Soon, however, she needed the toilet. My husband pulled over. The side of the road banked down to the fence in a not super steep slope and the soil looked soft and pliable. We got the little spade out of the car and performed the hole digging.
When our daughter had finished her business, we covered up the evidence with dirt and then I looked around for a rock, thinking of preventing curious wildlife with sensitive noses from digging it up too easily. I muttered aloud:
“Now, where’s a good sized rock?”
Our daughter looked surprised. “I thought you were supposed to get two sticks and make a cross.”
As somebody who grew up among more mosques than churches and who met beautiful people of many cultures and religions, I have found myself to be very uncomfortable with my kids only learning about one religion at school. And so, while they were in the public system, we found it easier to face them having no religious education than to send them to the voluntary Christian Education classes offered. Now, we have found a school which offers insight into many religions and ideas about deities and I feel like the kids will gather a more rounded notion of the possibilities. But at the time of the Queensland holiday, they were still in the public system.
So, on the sloping shoulder of the country road (although I have to admit to a strong inclination to laugh), I realized that we need to start educating our children about religion more, especially about the Bible whose symbolism is incredibly present in every day life. Like reading, it’s one of those things which I don’t remember learning but that doesn’t mean my kids can automatically vacuum up the knowledge out of nowhere.
So it was that the next several kilometers in the car were taken up with explaining what the crosses you often see on the side of the road actually mean.